Planners reject ex-developer's plan
Former economic development director Randy Collett hit a roadblock Tuesday when he asked Marion’s planning commission to approve addition of a ground floor apartment in a commercial building.
Collett sought a conditional-use permit to put a 500-square-feet, one-bedroom apartment at the rear of a building at 318 E. Main St. The apartment would be behind retail space in the building.
Collett has been restoring the 1887 building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with the help of an $89,700 grant from the state Heritage Trust Fund.
Commission members had numerous concerns, not the least of which was fire safety.
Commission secretary Margo Yates asked Collett whether the apartment would have access to the building’s retail space. When Collett said no, she asked about a fire escape.
Collett said someone could break a window to escape.
“Is that kosher with the fire marshal?” Yates asked.
Yates also said that if the apartment did not have access to the retail area, deliveries would need to be made to the front door on Main St.
Johsie Reid, who operates JR Hatters west of Collett’s building, said downtown parking already was congested and would become more so if Collett’s request was approved.
Commission member Darvin Markley said the city’s comprehensive plan called for downtown housing to be on an upper floor.
“Like employee housing,” Reid said.
Commission member Russell Hake said the group must make decisions that preserve property values, and that zoning regulations were meant to prevent encroachment of improper uses of property.
“If you need an income stream, could you put an office in there?” Yates asked Collett.
Collett said he didn’t like the idea of customers coming in the back door of the building.
Markley said he thought additions to the downtown area needed to complement existing businesses.
He said the central district overlay didn’t permit street-level apartments, and that the commission would have to change the city comprehensive plan and zoning regulations.
Markley moved to recommend the city council deny Collett’s request because an apartment would not be in conformance with the city’s comprehensive plan.
The vote to recommend denial was unanimous.
Commission members briefly discussed a city proposal to rezone lots in the industrial park, where a dollar store has bought property with the intention of building.
A map of the area that city administrator Roger Holter and mayor Dave Mayfield want changed was given to the commission.
“I see absolutely no reason to do anything about that,” chairman Terry Jones said.
Hake said the city’s proposal “does not make sense,” and recommended the commission simply move on with the meeting.
“We want something more than a crappy map of what they want,” Jones said.
Last modified Dec. 30, 2021