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Planners, council square off - City rezones but hearings to continue

Staff writer

Marion city council members and its planning and zoning commission stayed the course Tuesday night.

Each appears irritated with each other and determined to do what it thinks is right.

City council members rezoned a portion of the city’s industrial park despite the rezoning not being recommended by the zoning commission.

The rezoning also came despite a protest petition presented to the city, which the city attorney’s surrogate had not read, and despite people appearing at a public hearing to speak in opposition to the council taking the rezoning into their own hands.

Mayor David Mayfield and councilmen Jerry Kline, who could hear only part of the discussion over a telephone connection, and Zach Collett voted in favor of rezoning a portion of the industrial park bordering N. Roosevelt St. for general commercial use.

The area rezoned is where a Family Dollar store wants to build.

Councilwoman Ruth Herbel cast the single vote in opposition. Councilman Chris Costello was absent.

The 3-1 vote came despite the fact that council members and Kline were having trouble hearing each other. Kline, who drives a school activity bus, was at a game during the meeting. Several times he and council members said they could not hear one other.

Five residents of the 500 block of N. Roosevelt St. had signed a petition presented Tuesday afternoon at city hall.

The petition reads: “We the undersigners are against the rezoning of the Industrial Park as proper procedure has not been followed and the petition signers would like to send this rezoning to the Planning and Zoning board as required in 12-757. The rights of Marion residents have been denied due process as the hearing was not advertised 20 days before the hearing and owners notified of same. Planning and zoning is not conducting this hearing, but city council plans to override due process and conduct its own hearing.”

City attorney Zach Strella told council members he had not had time to read the petition but considered it “an open letter.”

Ruth Lange, one of the signers, told council members during a brief public hearing that by law a rezoning needed to go to planning and zoning first. She said also she had not received a letter, which she contended was required, notifying her about the public hearing.

Lange reminded council members that the zoning board already had scheduled a public hearing to discuss the rezoning March 10.

Mayfield said the zoning board had taken no action on a request to rezone the section. Collett agreed.

“I have a question for you,” Mayfield said to Herbel before votes were cast. “Are you against rezoning the industrial park?”

When the planning and zoning board met at 7 p.m., some wondered why the city even had a zoning board.

Board chairman Terry Jones said it was clear from the first moment of a meeting last week of the city attorney, city officials, and zoning board members that the council would do what it wanted to do.

“We have done everything we possibly can to do it correctly,” Jones said.

“Their legal counsel said they could do that,” commission member Brent Miles said.

Another disagreed.

“Any time city council, such as today, moves to do these public improvements, it needs to come to us,” Darvin Markley said. “What happened today with the city council taking the action they did, they don’t need the planning and zoning anymore.”

Member Carol Laue called the council’s actions “annoying.”

“It’s annoying that we are spending our evenings and it’s for naught,” Laue said.

Russ Hake clearly felt unneeded.

“Does the council really want this board?” Hake asked.

Jones said the board should continue as planned with its March 10 hearing to discuss rezoning and a conditional use permit application from developers of the Family Dollar store.

“I’m just tired of it,” Jones said. “I know what’s going on. It’s all wrapped up in a bunch of crap. It’s all about distracting the eyes while they do something else over here.”

At the city council meeting, council members also approved authorization to borrow $824,000 to perform additional development work at the industrial park.

Lange said she thought council members could use sales tax instead of bonds to pay for streets to be added to that section of the industrial park. The city is giving Family dollar’s developer a lot on Roosevelt St. for free.

It also voted Tuesday night to declare Roosevelt and Industrial Rd. major arterial streets.

Last modified Feb. 23, 2022

 

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