BAXTER -- Baxter City Council heard from Kirkwood area residents and developers Tuesday before deciding against rezoning to allow more commercial areas.
The area in question is land along the area where the Clearwater Road will be extended. The road extension is expected to affect several homes when the road right-of-way goes through. The rezoning request came from JMS Companies, owners of several parcels along the projected right-of-way. Zoning for office space behind the frontage commercial was said to be a buffer before going to the residential areas behind.
Jim Gammello, attorney representing JMS, said the city would have to buy the homes affected. Gammello said Clearwater Road is a major traffic road and rezoning the land for commercial and office space was appropriate. Without rezoning, Gammello said assessments will be an issue.
Residents noted a restrictive covenant applied to Kirkwood plat requires residential use, but Gammello stated several times that case law shows the covenants cannot be considered by the council. Tom Pearson, an attorney appearing for Betty Kirk one of the original developers, said the covenants do run with the land.
Jeff Schoenwetter, JMS Companies, said it was a question of the vision of the future and with InfoTel and Sears along the Clearwater Road extension corridor the area did not provide a picture of being terribly residential. Schoenwetter said the council could require a berm and a buffer zone. And he drew one on an overhead transparency as an example.
Daniel Horn, Lynwood Drive resident, rose to the microphone and said his home was just above where the berm was now pictured. Horn said he has concerns as a resident of being that close to commercial and office space and that developers are already looking to move that line further.
"The residents are strongly in opposition to this," he said. "We don't see any good coming from this."
Council member Darrel Olson said he did not see the need pressing the city to rezone and the important piece was to get the road. Council member Barb Wells said what would bother the city council more would be to have unhappy residents by doing something that doesn't have to be done right now.
Gammello said the developer won't lose either way because the council will have to buy the homes or rezone.
In its decision, the council stated the covenants were not part of the consideration. Council members agreed their main priority was to get the Clearwater Road extension completed and not to rezone property along the path.
The planning commission recommended leaving the area residential in keeping with the land use that is presently there. The Long Range Planning Commission agreed with the rezoning request, but John Sullivan, commission member, said the commission would have had a different opinion if it had known of the restrictive covenants at the time.
Staff supported the JMS request, but Holman said once a decision is made by the Planning Commission that is the recommendation staff carries to the city council.
About 30 people attended Tuesday's meeting, many noted they were in attendance for this agenda item.
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