Zoning recommendation puzzles city council

October 21, 2010

Discussions about approving a rezoning recommendation became slightly heated between Baldwin City Council members Monday night.

The city council was considering an ordinance that would approve the Baldwin City Planning Commission’s recommendation to rezone property at 913 Ames Street from commercial to single-family residential. Three of the four city council members at the meeting disagreed with the recommendation, because it goes against the council’s comprehensive plan for that area.

“I’m not against the request and I’m not completely against changing the zoning, but I want to know the reasons behind the recommendation,” City Council Member Mike Magers said. “I know it’s not just a knee-jerk reaction. I’d like to see some more thought put into it as this could become a presidence

City Council members Robin Bayer and Bonnie Plumberg agreed with Magers. However, Ted Brecheisen disagreed. He said the planning commission must have its reasons for making the recommendation, but those reasons weren’t given to the city council. He felt comfortable to make the zoning change.

“I think it’s just prolonging something,” Brecheisen said. “I would be surprised if anything is done commercially in that area for a long time.”

Bayer jumped in and said the council should be talking about whether to send the recommendation back to the planning commission or to move forward to a second reading at the next meeting. Brecheisen didn’t take kindly to being interrupted as he pointed and yelled at Bayer.

“I will talk about what I want to talk about,” Brecheisen said to Bayer.

Mayor Ken Wagner then asked Greg Wright, owner of the property, to speak about the situation and what was said at the planning commission meeting.

“I didn’t have any problem with the loan at that time,” Wright said. “Now a days with it being zoned commercial, someone has to have 20 percent down and they will get a 6 percent adjustable mortgage rate. If it could be zoned residential, they could get a loan at 3.5 percent down with a fixed rate of 4.5 percent.

“It’s a small, two-bedroom house and it’s roughly 1,000 square feet,” he said. “It is perfect for a small family or starting family. The planning commission said let the market dictate what the zoning is on that property. His main contention was to let the economy drive it.”

After Wright’s comments, the city council voted 3-1 to send the recommendation back to the planning commission for further explanation on why it was made. Brecheisen voted against the motion.

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