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R3 zoning request draws protest



July 03, 2014
James Ebert faced several protests in an effort to rezone a little over an acre of his property located at 1603 Fourth St.

Ebert wanted to go from R1 (residential) to R3 (residential).

City Manager Merl Page told the commissioners at the Tuesday, July 1, meeting, the Planning Commission had unanimously recommended not approving the rezoning.

Additionally, several residents of the area were present to protest.

Commissioner Bob Morse asked those residents the reason(s).

"Is it a traffic issue, safety issue or something in the rumor mill?" he asked.

"For me, it's traffic and security," responded Mike McCarty. "I live on a field right behind it. I was a little disappointed I knew nothing about what was going on until a neighbor knocked on my door.

"My concern is about the children," he continued. "My daughter walks across the field to get to the bus, as do others. How are they going to be affected. We are kind of unseen where we live, unknown up there and there are security issues.

"All I know is a letter that showed 36 units, and to me, that's just too many for that small an area."

"I have no intention of building a high rise," Ebert said. "Just some nice apartments. I think it would enhance the area."

Britt Nichols, another area resident, told the commission he had waked the neighborhood three times.

"I have not talked to one neighbor in favor," he said. "We are in the dark. It's not likely to be a 36 unit high rise, but once ownership changes, a new owner can come along and say he'd do a high rise."

Nichols said it was purchased as an R1 and should remain an R1. He was also concerned about maintenance.

"Jim (Ebert) has a good reputation," he said. "I'm not worried. But the minute he doesn't own it, it will fall into a state of disrepair like South Walnut. I think we'd all be embarrassed. These things do well on a first owner, but not when they are sold. The only way they make money in the long run is to defer maintenance. I don't want to live next door to that. I think it should stay R1."

Page told the commissioners they had several options, which included going along with the Planning Commission's recommendation or overturning it. Ebert also had the option to request the issue be returned to the Planning Commission for a lesser zoning change, and he opted to do that. The commission approved his request 5-0.

In other business:

The commission approved Dave Karnowski's request to rezone a lot in the Industrial Park to allow more RV lots.

The commission debated a request by Mary Ann Scruggs to put recycling bins around the park and Rec Complex. A 4-H Club would maintain them.

Commissioner Bill Ditto outlined several difficulties in implementing such a program including containers, allowing only one club to have access, and the fact the city was working with a commercial company for recycling.

The commission ultimately decided not to allow it at this time, but would coordinate with the city staff.

"Your heart is in the right place," said Morris. "It's a good idea, let's see if the city can tweak it."

If it is feasible, Page will get back to the club.

The commission approved a bid for a metal shade structures for the Rec Complex.

"The original fabric is not holding up to the wind and weather," said Page. "We knew this might be a problem and that we would need a more permanent steel covering."

Page said only one bid came in at $30,725 from Construction Inc.

The commission voted 4-1 in favor, with Morse opposed because there was only one bid.

The commission approved an upgrade to the phone system that would bring the police phones into the city's system.

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