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Huntington City Council: Action on rezoning postponed

Jan. 14, 2013 @ 12:05 AM

By BRYAN CHAMBERS
The Herald-Dispatch
bchambers@herald-dispatch.com
HUNTINGTON — Huntington City Council members will postpone action on a rezoning petition in Huntington’s West End to give newly-elected Mayor Steve Williams time to review whether the city is following zoning procedures properly.
The review will focus on rezoning petitions which receive an unfavorable recommendation from the city’s Planning Commission but are still forwarded to City Council for a vote.
Such is the case with the first reading of a petition on City Council’s meeting agenda for Monday, Jan. 14. The petition proposes to rezone 18 parcels of property from 33 to 215 6th Ave. West from R-4 Residence to C-1 Neighborhood Commercial, according to the petition filed by 10 property owners.
The main applicant, Toni Karle, wants to use her rental property at 213 6th Ave. West as a location for events and receptions. She asked other property owners to join the petition.
The Planning Commission reviewed the rezoning petition Dec. 3 and voted 3-1 to send it to City Council with an unfavorable recommendation. More than 20 residents signed their own petition opposing the rezoning request, citing concerns about parking.
City Councilman Dave Ball, however, asked planning department staff during a work session last week how the rezoning request made it onto the council’s agenda if the Planning Commission gave it an unfavorable recommendation.
“I feel like we’re avoiding procedure here,” Ball said.
Williams stepped into the discussion and said he agrees with Ball that a review of the city’s zoning and planning policies is needed. The mayor and Councilman Gary Bunn both said they recall the process being handled differently when they were in city government during the 1980s. Williams was city manager at the time, while Bunn served as the city’s planning director. Bunn said if the Planning Commission voted against a rezoning petition, it would not advance any further.
“I don’t think we need to create a new procedure here,” Williams added. “The policies are spelled out clearly in state law and the City Charter.”
Councilwoman Sandra Clements indicated she will make a motion asking Williams to report back to the council at its Feb. 11 meeting.
The council meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 800 5th Ave. Here’s a look at other items on the agenda:
- CHARTER CHANGE: The council will vote on the second reading of an ordinance to amend the City Charter so the governing body would no longer meet on Christmas Eve.
The charter requires the council to meet at 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, except for legal holidays. The proposed amendment would exempt Christmas Eve from the meeting requirement.
If one person challenges the ordinance in writing, however, the council must either withdraw the ordinance from consideration or let the public vote on it through a referendum. Council Chairman Mark Bates said he has learned the ordinance will be challenged by a citizen.
-  ANNEX BUILDING SALE: Although it’s not on the agenda, the council is expected to vote on a budget resolution placing $100,000 into contingency. The money is from the sale of the municipal annex building, located next to City Hall. Developer Shane Radcliff purchased the building last fall and will demolish it this spring to make room for a parking lot. Williams said he would prefer to use the one-time revenue source for capital improvement projects and has encouraged the council to provide a timeline for using the funds.
-  SEWER BONDS: The council will discuss the first reading of an ordinance which would attempt to refinance a 2006 sewer revenue bond issue of $1.45 million at a lower rate.
Williams said the ordinance, which requires three readings, authorizes the city to “shop around to see if we can get a better rate.” Current market conditions show the city could save up to $10,000 annually if the bonds are refinanced, Williams said.
-  MUNICIPAL JUDGE: The council will vote on a resolution approving the appointment of Tyler Smith as interim municipal judge. Smith replaces Sharon Frazier, who resigned from the position because of a work conflict. Williams said he has formed a committee consisting of Frazier and three other former municipal judges to help him select a permanent replacement.
Follow H-D reporter Bryan Chambers on Facebook or Twitter@BryanChambersHD.

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