The Ottumwa Courier


June 3, 2013

To rezone or not to rezone?

OTTUMWA — The tug-of-war continues in deciding whether to rezone the Ottumwa Veterinary Clinic.

After Mayor Frank Flanders vetoed the City Council's 4-1 vote to rezone the Ottumwa Veterinary Clinic from R-1 residential to C-1 commercial, two councilmen have placed the item back on Tuesday's agenda.

On Thursday, Councilmen Jeremy Weller and Bob Meyers requested a motion to re-pass and adopt the ordinance, which will require at least a 4-1 vote, said City Clerk Amanda Valent.

Flanders said the ordinance was an example of spot zoning and the clinic's neighbors' concerns were warranted, saying it would be "unfair favoritism of one over many."

He previously told the Courier that a switch from residential to commercial zoning is a large detractor from residential home values and if the clinic were to be sold, "it would open the possibility that a business undesirable for [that] traditionally residential neighborhood [could one day move into] that location."

Weller said that if the clinic were forced to relocate to a C-1 district, it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase the land, a financial burden that would eventually lead to hiked rates at the clinic.

"Why not let him expand on the property he's owned for 27 years?" Weller said. "What I don't think people are grasping is it used to be in the county, it got annexed in and granted a non-conforming legal use [permit], so as long as they don't change the footprint of the building and have adequate parking, they can use it for whatever."

One citizen asked Weller if he would support a property being rezoned to a commercial district next to his own home. No, he wouldn't, Weller said.

"But I have houses next to me. I didn't move in next to a veterinary clinic," he said. "If I had moved in next to a building that had a business in it and 15 years down the road it needed to expand ... then I would support it, because I knew it when I bought a house next to a business. It's just a chance you take."

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