Marion council reviews planning commission issues

Jerry Dieter and Todd Heit?schmidt were sworn into office at the April 16 Marion City Council meeting, replacing outgoing members Bill Holdeman and Steven Smith.

In addition to reviewing general procedures, the new members also learned of two issues facing the city?s planning commission scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

City Administrator Doug Kjellin said the planning commission is uneasy about changes needed for a new subdivision on Eisenhower, across from the high school football field, and the rehabilitation of September Senior Apartments.

?(The commission) tasked with reviewing all building and subdivisions has concerns about meeting minimum lot sizes and easement areas on the original plat.

?While the commission has made modifications, these corrections aren?t absolutely to the letter of the law,? Kjellin said, adding this would be considered at Tuesday?s meeting.

One issue is the zoning designation of the final plat from low density residential to high density residential for the subdivision, which Kjellin said would mean the street right-of-way should be at 66 feet on urban incorporated streets.

?Right now the right of way is 54 feet, but the street width is still at 24 feet width back to the curb,? he said. ?It?s just a line on the map and when developed it won?t be seen.?

The other issue involves high density residential requirements of a 25-foot setback with the current setback closer to 20 feet.

As for utility easements, Kjellin said they fit within a high density zone.

Heitschmidt asked if this would require rezoning or the need for a variance.

According to Kjellin, the planning commission knows what the irregularities are and if they recommend approval, the city council can vote in favor of their recommendation.

?There isn?t a variance process,? Kjellin said, ?because it would already be in there.?

Mayor Mary Olson said she is uncomfortable signing off on a letter of partnership support between the city and Homestead Affordable Housing because the aforementioned issues are still undecided.

Olson was referring to a letter presented for council approval stating support for the rehabilitation of September Apartments, the construction of 14 new senior units and HAH?s request for issuance of taxable bonds for a 10-year tax abatement on both projects.

Olson said she would prefer the letter be signed after everything is already done.

?That is just me speaking,? she said.

Kjellin said the reason for the letter coming first is about timing and the way the annual grant funding falls.

Prior to the council meeting, Tom Bishop with HAH sent Kjellin a letter stating he wants to make sure the city understood that in no way would it be responsible for any of the $5.4 million in bonds it would take to move forward on building plans.

By a majority, the council approved the letter of support on the affordable housing projects with Olson casting the dissenting vote.

?I am opposed for the reasons I have already explained,? she said.

The planning commission members who will offer a recommendation on the projects include Margo Yates, Dick Varenhorst, Roger Schroeder, Ruth Herbel, Paul White, Chad Gormley and Dustin Hett.

The council, in other business:

? unanimously approved the one-year appointments of Kjellin as city administrator; Angela Lange as city clerk; Keith Collett as city attorney; Tyler Mermis as police chief; Randy Pankratz as municipal judge and Mike Regnier as fire chief.

? agreed with Olson?s recommendation to have Sheila Anderson fill Ed Wheeler?s unexpired term on the museum board.

? tabled approval of Charter Ordinance Amendment 12-02.

? discussed tree dump attendance and the labor costs of $8,500 compared to $1,000 in fees collected.

? received a letter from Leroy Kraus of Marion on behalf of agri producers in the area for allowing the use of the municipal airport.

The next meeting is at 4:30 p.m. April 30 in council chambers at Marion City Hall.

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