Marion council, public discuss ways to temporarily host large business

After lengthy discussion among Marion City Council members and the public Monday, it appeared the council might have established a pattern for what to do when a large business coming to town temporarily needs other facilities.

Councilor Steve Smith led the decided upon point of setting precedent, planning and broadening community input by having the question first turned to the planning commission for consideration.

At issue was a seemingly simple answer concerning whether Auto House, a company that plans to build a half-million dollars in facilities in Marion?s industrial park, should be allowed to temporarily rent the city?s spec building for $200 a month to house its two wrecker trucks, plus towed vehicles, at a rate of $30 a day.

Marion Economic Director Doug Kjellin said the company wouldn?t do anything to change the building, and the rent money is better than the zero dollars the city currently receives for it.

At first City Attorney Dan Baldwin seemed to join Councilor Stacey Collett in favoring drawing up an immediate agreement by simple majority vote of the council. But after some deliberation, he joined Smith in saying a 10-day to two weeks wait to vote, after planning commission deliberation, isn?t a bad thing to insure broad community approval.

Todd Heitschmidt was concerned the city might jeopardize the half-million dollar deal or setting a reputation with industry for being difficult to deal with.

Kjellin said Auto House is heavily committed to coming to Marion, and that the company probably would appreciate the care shown.

Heitschmidt said the city could spend too much time in talking and not getting things done.

Baldwin said the more voices involved in decision making, the less chance there is of questions later.

City Clerk Angela Lange resigned from the Marion Planning Commission, and Mayor Mary Olson said she wanted to delay appointment of Kjellin to succeed her to see if other volunteers would step forward.

Kjellin called his own eligibility into question saying he intends to be back on the family farm after the first of the year instead of living in Marion.

The councilors determined he could represent them as an adviser and participant with the commission without being a voting member.

Police Chief Todd Whitwell introduced Tyler Mermis, formerly of Kingman, as a new member of the Marion police force.

Street Commissioner Marty Fredrickson said contractors are considering putting cement on Cedar Street instead of asphalt because of the rising prices of oil products. He said there may be issues of getting sufficient metal reinforcement in because of limited concrete thickness available over shallowly buried water pipes.

Jan Nolde representing Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk and Loyd Auditing Firm presented the 2007 Audit Report. She said such factors as inadequate segregation of employee duties still are regarded as faults in the audit, although it is expected with small city employees performing multiple functions.

The council approved new police department manual revisions to increase proficiency and changes to more modern hand guns.

Both Mayor Mary Olson and Chamber Secretary Margo Yates thanked city employees for extra efforts during Art In The Park over the weekend.

Yates said she hoped the city soon will begin talking about how to improve rest room facilities in Central Park.

Planning Commission Chairman Roger Scwab said there are errors that need to be corrected on the city?s website listing too many lot uses on development guidelines.

The council approved payment to Kirkham Michael for work completed on street reconstruction for $12,825.

It approved payment to Ransom Financial for administrative services for $1,000.

The council approved paying $146,000 in warrants, which included a Westar payment of $45,000, and $26,000 in wages.

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