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Council OKs zoning changes

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On two separate occasions on Tuesday night, the city council acted against proposals from the city staff in favor of considering the wishes of the public and the greater good of the community.
In one of three changes to the current zoning regulations, the council opted to grant Residential-Low Density status to a seven-acre parcel of land along FM 20 just inside the ci

ty limits, over City Planner Dan Gibson”s objections.
Gibson suggested that the tract be divided into separately zoned parcels in an effort to preserve the availability for commercial development in the future.

“There has been talk of a major subdivision on FM 20,” Gibson said. “In the future, if this land was all zoned for residential use, it would be more difficult for the adjacent property to get commercial zoning. Commercial development in the area would make shopping available to those residents without their having to go up to Commerce Street.”
Tommy Finfrock and Roy Stephens, the owners of the property in question, and John Manning, owner of a home nearby, objected strongly to the idea of making any part of the property commercial.
“The Hook Cemetery backs up to the adjacent property,” Finfrock said. “Having heavy equipment and commercial uses out there would be disrespectful to the cemetery.”
Manning agreed, and said the survivors of those buried in the cemetery spend significant time and effort keeping up the grounds.
After public hearing, the council agreed that granting the property a residential status would be for the best.
Interim Finance Manager Stephanie House presented a proposal on behalf of the staff of the Eugene Clark Library that the city begin charging rent for special uses of the library, including meetings, luncheons and film shoots.
“We have to have an employee on site during these events,” House said. “That sometimes requires payment of overtime, and currently, we have to calculate those numbers when we get requests to use the library.”
City Manager Clovia English said the city tries to schedule special uses of the library either after hours or when the activities will not interfere with the regular business of the library. Organizations such as the Irving Club and the Friends of the Library use the facility for their regular meetings.
Council member Dick Wieland questioned House as to whether the proposal had been approved by the library board, Friends or the Irving Club, and she admitted that the proposal had not been discussed with the organizations.
“This is a bigger issue than just money,” Wieland said. “This is about a local treasure, and I think we need to consider further what the community thinks about renting it out.”
In the end, the council agreed, and the proposition was tabled pending further discussion with the staff, the board, the Friends of the Library and the Irving Club.
In other business:
The council unanimously voted Frank Estrada to an additional term as Mayor Pro Tem to act as the chair of the council and to appear at public functions in the event of the mayor”s absence.
Changes in zoning were granted to two properties, changing one from Residential – Low Density to Commercial Light Business, and the other from Agricultural-Open to Commercial-Heavy Business.
The council will hold a special executive session on Monday to interview candidates for the position of Associate Municipal Judge.

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