HOLCOMB ó Following a lengthy discussion that included a closed session and a couple of testy exchanges, the Holcomb City Council on Wednesday voted to rezone more than 300 acres of land southwest of town from agriculture to light industrial, and to prepare an ordinance making the change at the first meeting in January.
An unnamed industry is looking to build on the land. The proposal was initially to rezone the property to heavy industrial, but councilmen Brian Rupp and Greg Cox objected to heavy industrial being placed near residential areas that abut the property.
There was also debate about whether the council followed correct procedure at its Sept. 10 meeting when the proposal first came up. At that meeting, the council voted 3-1 with one abstention to deny the rezone to heavy industrial due to a lack of information about plans for the land.
Mayor Gary Newman said the council erred when it denied the request in September because it didnít have a two-thirds majority needed to override the planning commissionís approval, and didnít send its reasons for rejection back to the planning commission.
Rupp on Wednesday reiterated concerns raised the last time the issue came to the council about the proximity of putting heavy industrial next to residential zones.
ďYou donít want to bring heavy industrial right up next to the residential area,Ē Rupp said.
Cox said the issue was addressed when the council denied the request in September.
Newman said itís back on the agenda because the correct procedure wasnít followed.
Cox and Newman then argued about why the issue was on the agenda, with Cox claiming Newman put it on the agenda knowing councilman Scott Homer would be absent, and Newman denying Coxís claim.
From there, the council debated whether heavy industrial zoning was necessary, and discussed whether light industrial would be an acceptable alternative.
Newman said the Finney County Economic Development Corp. told the planning commission the property would be used for light to medium industrial purposes.
Rupp questioned why the request is for heavy industrial if light industrial is acceptable.
Cox said for him to feel comfortable rezoning the property, he needs to know what use is planned.
ďI donít know why itís a big secret,Ē he said.
Newman said the reason the business isnít being identified publicly right now is due to confidentiality concerns. That sparked another round of bickering between Cox and Newman.
ďAll Iím saying is they need to come in and talk to us about whatís going in our backyard. Evidently, youíre texting somebody who knows everything about it so you know about it. I donít know anything about it,Ē Cox said.
The council then entered closed session for about 15 minutes in order to talk about the proposed business that is interested in the property.
After reopening the meeting, the council was agreeable to changing the zoning of the property to light industrial. An ordinance will be drafted and reviewed in January.
In other business Wednesday:
ē The council voted to prepare necessary documentation by the Jan. 14 meeting to seek demolition bids for property at 202 E. Railroad Ave.
At its last meeting, the council declared the property, commonly known as the Hay Mill, as an unsafe and dangerous structure.
City officials have had concerns about the property, which is abandoned and covers about 3.66 acres, for many years, estimating itís been in poor condition for more than two decades.
The property owner has until Jan. 2 to repair or remove the structures to the satisfaction of the inspection department, at the ownerís expense. Newman indicated he has had conversations with the owner, Bud Walters, or his attorney that indicated the owner may not meet the deadline. If so, the city hopes to be ready to go out for bid on demolition at its Jan. 14 meeting.
ē The council reviewed two bids received for carpet replacement in city offices but postponed accepting a bid to allow more time to get additional quotes from other companies.
ē The council approved 2015 cereal malt beverage licenses for Ronís Market, El Rancho Cafe, and The Thirsty Dawg.
ē The council authorized purchasing Chamber Bucks for city employees in the amount of $50.