City Council tables zoning issue, increases motel tax

Shellie Smitley/Staff

City Council members, excluding recused Councilwoman Chris Hodges and opposing Councilman Joe Diletto, vote to postpone a final decision.

hellie Smitley

shellie@lakeoconeenews.us

 

The zoning saga continues.

The Madison City Council city decided Monday night to postpone a final decision regarding Brad Good’s request for 80 zoning variances to move forward with his Foster Park project.

Councilwoman Chris Hodge recused herself from the public hearing held before a packed chamber.

“I had registered it on the website about 16 months ago,” she said. “I will remain recused.”

Not all members opposed Good’s variances.

Councilman Joe Diletto motioned to approve Good’s request. None of the council members seconded the motion, but instead, voted to put the issue off. They encouraged Good and his team, including attorney Kathy Zickert, to re-examine the development plans over the next month. The team is expected to define which variances are necessary and which ones can be avoided. They will present the council with the revised proposal and request for variances during next month’s meeting.

Representatives and residents from both sides of the issue debated for more than an hour before the council members made their decision to table the issue.

“It does appear this variance would cause substantial detriment to public good,” said city staffer Molly Bogle who had also recommended that Madison Planning and Zoning Commission deny Good’s request at its December meeting, pointing out that Good’s request is the largest variance request she could find a record of in 30 years. City Manager David Nunn speculated it was the largest request ever.

Local attorney Chuck Dorr, representing adjacent property owners, asked the council to put an end to the issue that evening.

“It’s been a long 15 months,” Zickert said and assured council members that although the request for variances may not be the best solution, the group attempted a legal compromise. “There are exceptional circumstances; we have a very long and narrow site.”

George West argued against the entire idea of the construction project for environmental reasons.

“There has been a recent suggestion to avoid any development on the Foster Street property,” West said and pointed out that more than two dozen species of trees grow on the land. “It’s unlikely that in the future, the increasingly greedy, fast-paced future, people will be patient enough to leave land alone behind an old house in Madison.

Catherine Andrews stepped up to the podium and reiterated West’s concerns.

“This property can and must be preserved in its entirety,” Andrews said and assured council members that TPO is willing to help preserve the land.

Diletto chastised speakers for making the suggestion to scrap all development plans. He said to come forward arguing alternatives to selling the land was “almost offensive” and encouraged the other council members not to consider such proposals.

Zickert rebutted concerns that the variances are unnecessary to construct the 20 houses Good intends to build. She refuted accusations he was trying to maximize the economic use of the property.

The council members tabled a second hearing set to address changing the zoning of the property, located between Foster and S. Main streets, from R2 to R4. They will address both issues at next month’s meeting. The land in question is currently owned by Friesen Real Estate Holdings.

 

IN OTHER NEWS, council members voted to increase the hotel and motel tax in Madison from 5 percent to 7 percent. The request to raise the tax was brought to the city council by CVB representative Jamison Hooks.

 

IN MORE NEWS, residents and former residents will be able to check a website to see if they are owed money. The city council voted to write off unclaimed checks totaling approximately $13,000. Those who are owed the checks can still collect, City Manager David Nunn said and pointed out that the checks will be re-written from another account the city holds.

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