2013-03-14 / Top News

Linton City Council denies application to rezone residential property to commercial

The Linton City Council denied a request from Jason Kelsch to rezone property from residential to commercial, after holding a public hearing on the matter during its regular meeting on March 4.

Kelsch purchased the lot (located on Southeast 2nd Street) with the intention of erecting a storage unit, and the council denied his request during its January meeting, but approved the request after revisiting the issue during its February meeting. The council scheduled a public hearing on the matter to be held during the March meeting, and several neighborhood residents attended to express their concerns.

Janelle Ferderer, who lives just north of Kelsch’s lot, told the council that she feels the storage unit Kelsch plans to build would be too close to her home, and she would rather see the lot remain residential, since the block already has storage facilities and resembles a commercial area. Ferderer added that the driveway and doors would also be too close to her home, and that would perhaps cause disturbances at odd hours during a normal day.

Gary Horner, who represented his parents, Linus and Anna Horner, said his parents built a home at a location across the street from Kelsch’s lot about 25 years ago, and he was saddened to see what has become of the neighborhood since his parents moved there.

“When my parents moved there, all of the surrounding houses were occupied, but the neighborhood has disappeared, and houses have been replaced by storage sheds,” Horner said. “This is an ideal neighborhood for residential housing, it is close to downtown, the pool and the City Park. I don’t see why you (council) would continue taking residential property and turning it into commercial.”

Horner also pointed out that the existing storage units create more traffic in the area, and his parents have complained about having gravel lots in a residential area, because the gravel gets blown around when it is windy.

Kelsch told the council that he is essentially helping the City by taking unusable property, cleaning it up, and maintaining it. He felt he has done a good job of keeping the lots and the surrounding area clean, and the lot in question contains a house that is beyond repair.

“Every house I have torn down was not occupied, and in most cases, the repairs were not feasible,” Kelsch said. “Isn’t it better to have something on that lot, than to have it set empty?”

Kelsch added that the house will be razed regardless of the council’s decision, and feels the lot is not big enough to hold a new house, which would decrease the value of the lot. Kelsch pointed out that annual property taxes on the lot are around $94 right now, but they would increase to over $700 if the property was rezoned, and a storage unit was erected.

Alderwoman Shelly Hauge told Kelsch that even though she felt there is a need for storage facilities in Linton, there is also a need for housing, and the City cannot keep taking residential property and using it for storage units. Hauge said people purchased homes in residential areas with the idea it would stay that way, and she said she would like to see Kelsch look for other property that cannot be used for housing.

Alderwoman Tammi Sannes said she received calls from residents who urged the City not to rezone the property, because the need for more housing, and Alderman Gary Hulm said he felt the lot should remain residential for the same reason, along with the fact that neighbors had protested the City’s prior decision to rezone the property.

President Dan Imdieke and Alderman Dennis Morris indicated they were in favor of the council’s decision to rezone the property, pointing to the increased tax revenue for the City, as well as Kelsch’s commitment to maintaining the lot.

Kelsch said he has looked at other areas, but this location would work best because he already owns three storage facilities in adjacent lots, and the plans are already finalized for the new unit.

After further discussion, Alderwoman Hauge made a motion to deny Kelsch’s request to rezone the property, and to deny Kelsch’s application for a building permit to erect a storage facility on the property. Alderman Hulm seconded the motion, and it carried, 4-2, with President Imdieke and Alderman Morris voting nay.

The council also:

• Reviewed the City Ordinance pertaining to dogs and cats. The council had received several complaints about loose and barking dogs, as well as unlicensed pets. According to the ordinance, excessive, continuous or untimely barking and trespassing upon private property by dogs or cats is considered a nuisance, and owners may be subject to a fine of up to $500.

• Discussed the ordinance pertaining to mailbox complexes. The council reviewed the ordinance, and tabled the matter until the regular meeting in April.

• Approved Local Permit applications from the Linton Lions Club (Calendar Raffle) and the Linton Chamber of Commerce (Dairy Day Raffle). Alderwoman Hauge made a motion to approve the permits, with a second by President Imdieke. The motion carried, 5-0 (Alderman Perry Kimble abstained).

• Unanimously approved a Liquor License transfer from the Green Lantern to the Emmons County Memorial Auditorium for the Dan R. Richardson American Legion Post 54 meeting on March 10. Alderman Kimble made a motion to approve the transfer, with a second by Alderwoman Sannes.

• Approved building permits for Lonny Mertz ($9,000 for flood repairs/remodel); Richard and Sandy Feist ($10,000 to remodel bathroom); and Jason Kelsch ($40,000 to remodel home). Alderman Kimble made a motion to approve the permits, with a second by Alderwoman Sannes. The motion carried, 6-0.

• Learned from President Imdieke that the City-wide clean-up will be held on Saturday, May 4.

• Scheduled the next regular meeting for Monday,April 1, at 5 p.m.

• Scheduled the Tax Equalization Meeting for Tuesday, April 9, at 5 p.m.

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