The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

July 16, 2013

Former Salvation Army building to convert into fitness center

OTTUMWA — A former Salvation Army office will be transformed into a fitness center.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the city council approved the rezoning request of Ken Crosser, who purchased the building at 203 W. Fourth St. The property will be rezoned from an Office-Apartment District to a C-1 Retail Business District.

"We want to turn it into a fitness center for public and employee use," Crosser said.

At a meeting earlier this month, the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously denied the rezoning request "based on potential off-side impacts of a commercial use site," said Planning and Development Director Nick Klimek.

A group of nearby property owners and a landlord came forward at the commission's meeting with concerns that the rezoning to a commercial district would invite future bars or restaurants to move in should the fitness center vacate the property.

But the plan Crosser presented to the commission was a two-part request. The second part involved turning a nearby property into "transitional housing," which would include communal restrooms and kitchens with eight to 10 "dorm-style units."

"But the commission, as well as the attending public, objected primarily to the C-1 zoning classification in general," Klimek said.

Crosser has since withdrawn the request for transitional housing, Klimek said.

Crosser also purchased the property (previously a law office) next to the building, which he plans to demolish in order to add parking for the fitness center.

But that piece of the puzzle wasn't included in the property's rezoning Tuesday night, Klimek said. The proposed parking lot would have to come back to the council at a later date for approval.

Wapello County Public Health Clinical Director Lynelle Diers said this is another step the city can take in increasing its overall health and well-being.

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