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Solid waste means solid resistance in Marion

Staff writer

A county proposal to move the transfer station and hazardous waste facility to the former Straub International location drew criticism from Marion residents at Thursday evening’s city planning commission meeting.

“I don’t know of anybody who thinks that’s a good idea,” planning commission member John Wheeler said.

The county’s plan to move its shop, some offices, and storage shed to the 601 W. Main location and put up a communications tower was received favorably, but residents and city officials balked at the idea of moving the transfer station and hazardous waste facility from their present locations.

Tina Steele, who lives on Santa Fe St., said putting a transfer station on W. Main St. would affect the housing area to the north because of odor and dust.

“That south wind is terrible,” Steele said.

Mary Lou Cogdill, who lives on Vine St., said she is concerned about unpleasant odor as well as blowing trash.

County officials were vague about what departments would be relocated to the property, as well as when a transfer station and other planned facilities would operate there. Commissioner Randy Dallke said the county would have to put back money toward development of the property.

“I learned a long time ago that when you try to design a kitchen, you don’t really know what you want,” planning commissioner Margo Yates said.

“I can’t tell you everything that’s going to be there today,” Dallke said. “We’re trying to save you tax dollars.”

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt drove home the point that saving county tax money by rezoning the property would mean loss of sales tax money to the city. He also pointed to incomplete planning.

“To say that this is the county’s plan, the county really doesn’t have a plan,” Heitschmidt said. “From the neighbors’ position, I’m expecting a lot more planning.”

“It sounds to me like that transfer still has a lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ and ‘buts’ about it,” Cogdill said.

Dallke said their attitude amounted to “not in my back yard.”

Wheeler said the transfer station was the obvious sticking point.

Heitschmidt asked Dallke if there is a time limit on a decision regarding a transfer station.

Dallke said if the planning commission was not prepared to decide on the transfer station Thursday, the county would reconsider their plans.

When Dallke called upon other commissioners to say what they think of the plan, county commissioner Dianne Novak said her concern is cost.

“It looks to me like a dinosaur; I don’t know how we’re going to pull this off,” Novak said. “I did come here late in the plan.”

Ultimately, the planning commission approved everything except a transfer station and a hazardous waste facility.

The county’s agreement to buy the property from Straub International, signed Jan. 23, includes a clause that the agreement is contingent on the county obtaining a conditional use permit for the property. The request for the CUP was submitted as a single request for a permit to do all things in the county’s plan, planning and zoning director Clayton Garnica said.

Under city planning and zoning codes, city council will decide whether to approve the planning commission’s recommendation at its Feb. 27 meeting. City council could also refer the matter back to the planning commission for more study and another recommendation.

At the conclusion of the planning commission meeting, county planning and zoning director Emma Tajchman made a request, on behalf of county clerk Tina Spencer, that city council members and county commissioners have a special meeting Feb. 17.

“At this moment in time, I have only two who have responded that they would be in favor of the special meeting,” Holter said late Monday afternoon.

Owners of the Straub building, the county, and owners of adjacent property have the right to sign a petition opposing the planning commission’s decision. Holter said five signatures would be required for the petition, but county officials would count as only one party.

Last modified Feb. 9, 2017

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