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Tower deadline prompts review

Council extends cell tower deadline, sends application to planning and zoning for review

Staff writer

A newly seated city council Monday passed a 4-1 vote to get ahead of a looming deadline by sending an application for a permit to build a 129-foot cell phone tower for review by the planning and zoning commission.

The council also agreed unanimously to extend the time to grant or refuse construction of a tower at 505 Commercial St. from Feb. 2. to July 2.

If the city had taken no action by February, the permit would have been deemed granted under state law. Council members tabled the proposal in March and now has until summer to make a decision.

“We need to act on this in that time,” new city council member Ruth Herbel said.

She also told council that state law requires such a permit to be reviewed for compliance with local zoning regulations.

“In light of all the confusions, that we’ve had, we need to send this back to them, just so they can review it and send us their recommendation,” she said.

The council approved a leasing agreement in November giving Verizon permission to mount an antenna atop a water tower west of the high school amid objections of the Marion school board.

The proposal to mount an antenna on the water tower followed organized protests from neighbors at Commercial and Forests Sts.

Verizon has not withdrawn its request for a permit there because if the request is withdrawn while the company seeks a new location, the company must wait two years to submit a new request.

“My conversations with them Christmas Eve is that they are looking for other sites,” Holter said.

Herbel said the company would need to apply for a permit for another site if it chooses one.

The Commercial St. site is the only one Verizon has applied for a conditional use permit, Herbel said, and the city needs to act on it, get a recommendation from planning and zoning, and proceed from there.

“We have have planning and zoning laws on the books and I think we need to be following them,” said Marion city mayor David Mayfield. “If that is the procedure that needs to be followed, that’s probably what we should do.”

In other business, Mayfield proposed the city look into purchasing a city vehicle. The council approved the new IRS mileage reimbursement rate of 57.5 cents a mile, down from 58 cents this past year.

Mayfield said mileage expense for city employees was $3,500 a year on average over these past three years. A city car might save funds in the long run as the handbook requires employees to use a city vehicle for travel, he said.

“I think we could probably get into a really good, low-milage, high mile-per-gallon vehicle for about $15,000 or less,” he said. “If you guys would see fit, we could approve a $15,000 amount. I think Roger and I can do some research and see what we can find for that.”

Holter said the estimated costs of a Chevy Cruise over a 5-year period would be $15,000. That figure includes fuel, insurance coverage and repairs.

A mid-size car would run $15,400 and a full size $19,000 over the same 5-year period, according to Kelley’s Blue Book, he said.

The council tabled the request for further consideration.

During Monday night’s meeting the council also:

  • Swore in new mayor David Mayfield and new council members Ruth Herbel and Jerry Kline.
  • Recognized outgoing mayor Todd Heitschmidt and council member John Wheeler with certificates of appreciation.
  • Named Chris Costello vice mayor.
  • Approved appointments of Darvin Markley and Terry Jones to the planning and zoning commission.
  • Approved the appointment of Ruth Herbel to the Marion Historical Museum Board.

Last modified Jan. 16, 2020

 

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