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Dollar store gives up on Marion

Mayor scolds council member

Staff writer

Two months of contention over Marion’s plan to sell a portion of its industrial park platted as a buffer and for drainage came to a screeching halt Tuesday. City administrator Roger Holter said at the end of Tuesday’s city council meeting that he had been notified earlier in the day by a company interested in developing a dollar store at the location had terminated its agreement with the city.

Before his announcement, city attorney Susan Robson told council member Ruth Herbel, who had questioned the city’s ability to sell the land, that the city could indeed sell the property. Two weeks ago, Herbel presented a note from a lawyer with the Kansas League of Municipalities that said the city could not sell the property.

“He was under the impression the city had been given [the land],” Robson said. “I did some research, and the city bought the land from the Batts.”

Robson said other statutes the lawyer had consulted were about land given for a specific purpose, but since the city purchased the land, it could sell it if it wanted to.

“We can vacate the dedication or redo the plat,” Robson said.

Such an action probably would have to go through the city’s independent planning and zoning commission, according to state and city law.

City code also forbids signing of contracts to sell such property until after such land is subdivided.

Mayor David Mayfield focused, however, on a misstatement by Herbel regarding whether the land had been owned previously by the county or merely was part of the county before it was purchased and annexed into the city.

Mayfield asked Herbel how she had determined that the county had owned the land and deeded it to the city.

“This is exactly why, if you have questions, you can bring it to the city attorney and me,” Mayfield said. “This is about you contacting an attorney and giving him wrong information.”

Herbel said that’s how she understood the statute.

“So you couldn’t have shared that information with me and the city attorney?” Mayfield retorted.

Mayfield added that he’d discussed concerns an existing dollar store, Dollar General, had about what it contends was a city promise not to sell land to a competing store. Mayfield said he had told Dollar General that the location proposed for sale was not in the same section of the industrial park that the city earlier agreed not to permit development of a dollar store.

A section heading in the contract would tend to support Mayfield’s view, but another section of the contract states that section headings are to be ignored.

Before Holter’s announcement that the matter was moot, Mayfield said the city would send the proposal to its planning and zoning commission.

Margo Yates, secretary of the commission, said the commission was not ready to take action.

“I’d like to make it better,” Yates said.

Larry Lange, who lives near the proposed dollar store location at Kellison and Roosevelt Sts., stepped to the lectern during public forum and took Mayfield to task for his remarks to Herbel.

Lange helped circulate petitions against sale of the property for a dollar store. To date, organizers have obtained 136 signatures. He said Herbel was not to blame for citizens taking action in opposition.

“We got all this when we heard it was for sale, not by anything Mrs. Herbel said,” Lange said.

Last modified Sept. 9, 2021

 

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