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Planners punt tower decision

County’s best hope appears to be variance from zoning appeals panel

Staff writer

Marion County officials came to the Marion Planning Commission meeting Thursday hopeful they would get the go-ahead for a 92-foot communication tower.

What they left with was confusion and a promise from Marion Zoning Administrator Marty Fredrickson to clarify exactly which city body could authorize the necessary permit for the tower.

Marion County Emergency Management Director Dan d’Albini provided schematic drawings of the proposed tower and gave a brief presentation before Planning Commission member Paul White suggested he was in front of the wrong group.

“Maybe we can shorten this a little bit,” White said. “This tower does not meet the specifications as spelled out in the conditional use section, and the Planning Commission does not have the authority to issue variances. That request would have to be directed to the Board of Zoning Appeals.”

White read a list of specific regulations that he said the proposed tower did not meet. This ignited a lengthy discussion in which commission members and Fredrickson flipped back and forth through the regulations trying to determine which ones applied to the tower, whether the county needs a conditional use permit or a variance, and which group should act on the request.

“The way I’m reading through this the tower itself does not need a conditional use permit, but the antennas on the tower do need a conditional use permit,” Fredrickson said.

“I don’t read it that way,” commission member Ruth Herbel said.

The discussion continued, and at another point county Commission Chariman Dan Holub expressed frustration.

“We’re finding all kinds of issues why we can’t do anything. Is there some way in here this is going to be able to be done?” Holub asked. “I just want to make sure we can go forward and whatever takes we’ll go forward. But right now I’m not sure what direction we ask for.”

After about 20 minutes of discussion in which there was no resolution, Fredrickson concluded they would not be able to resolve the question. “I wish the administrator or the city attorney would have been here to help me out here a little bit, but hopefully tomorrow morning we can sit down and discuss it and give you guys an answer by phone or e-mail,” Fredrickson said.

City officials determined Friday the appropriate body to hear the county’s case for the tower is the Board of Zoning Appeals. The variance hearing will be held 7 p.m. July 24 in the council room at Marion City Building.

Last modified Aug. 17, 2012

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