Marshall Planning Commission not in favor of West Main rezone

MARSHALL – Members of the Marshall Planning Commission won’t be recommending a rezone of several properties along West Main Street. Both local property owners and members of the planning commission questioned the proposal during a public hearing Wednesday evening.

At the hearing, Marshall building official Ilya Gutman presented commission members with a request for a zoning amendment that would change 12 properties on the 600 and 700 blocks of West Main Street from a higher-density housing zone to a limited business zone.

Gutman and Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson said the request to change the properties’ zoning was partly brought up in light of the impending demolition of a house on West Main Street that was critically damaged in the storms of July 1, 2011, and partly in light of questions about availability of some of the properties for future development. The idea, Gutman said, was that there should be a commercial or business district along Main Street. If the city were to re-zone only the demolished property for business, it would raise concerns about spot zoning, Olson said.

Once rezoned, the affected homes could stay as residential properties and be sold as residences, Gutman and Olson said. However, they could not be rebuilt or completely remodeled.

Commission members had questions about the impact a rezone would have on current property owners. For example, James Lozinski asked, how would the properties’ tax value be affected?

“I don’t believe there would be a negative tax impact,” Olson said. Gutman added that property taxes are determined by a property’s use, not by zoning designation.

Both commission members and Main Street property owners questioned the purpose and timing of the zoning proposal.

“Why is the city recommending we do this?” asked commission member Chris Ellingson.

Marshall Independent publisher Russ Labat asked if the rezone was being requested because of past discussion by members of the Lyon County Board. Board members have asked about availability of land for additional parking at the county government center, Labat said.

“There are no hidden agendas,” Olson said.

Olson said the county was not the only entity that had asked about development on that part of Main Street.

Floyd Phillips, a homeowner on West Main Street, agreed with that part of Olson’s statements.

“This is not new,” Phillips said of talk about development in the area. However, he said he did have concerns about the proposed rezone. Phillips was concerned about how a zoning change would affect the value of his property and whether the restrictions on rebuilding or improving the residence would make it impossible to sell.

“I’m uncomfortable with the whole deal,” he said.

Commission member Scott Stewart moved to recommend the Marshall City Council deny the zoning request. The commission voted unanimously in favor of that motion.