City says ‘no’ to rezoning

BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Expansion plans for the Clarkston Mills stalled after City Council voted to reject a request to rezone 42 W. Washington from residential to commercial.
“This has been going on four or five weeks – it’s a difficult decision,” said Council member Sue Wylie, who voted against rezoning at the May 22 meeting along with council members Sharron Catallo, Eric Haven, Jason Kneisc, and David Marsh. “I know a lot of people in the area who would be affected by the rezoning – it would cause a hardship on the people who move there understanding its residential, across the street.”
Council member Rick Detkowski was absent. Mayor Steven Percival voted to rezone the property.
“I’m not real happy with the fact that the Master Plan is outdated, but it’s being used as the basis to approve or deny this,” Percival said.
The mayor said many properties have been commercial and residential at different points in the city’s history, and residential areas have prospered despite being next to commercial property.
The council voted on two resolutions regarding the issue. The first was to approve rezoning, which was denied 5-1.
A second resolution, to deny the rezoning, was approved with five votes – Catallo, Haven, Kneisc, Marsh, and Wylie.
Marsh made the motion for the second resolution to deny rezoning, based on advice from city attorney Tom Ryan.
The resolution specified reasons including zoning ordinance standards were not satisfied, the Planning Commission recommended against it, Master Plan is against non-residential intrusions into residential areas, preserve property values, the plan is incompatible with adjacent residential areas, a petition against rezoning was signed by every adjacent property owner, the Mill Pond serves as a natural dividing line, and there is already sufficient commercially zoned property in the city.
Percival abstained from the second vote, saying he didn’t see the need for it, and the list of reasons had not been submitted to and discussed by the council before that evening.
“We didn’t discuss that list – it was not presented as a city council document,” he said.
All the reasons on the list were mentioned at least once during previous meetings, Catallo said.
“There’s not anything on there you could dispute,” she said. “It pretty much covers the things brought up.”
“These reasons don’t mean anything to me,” Percival responded.
Bill Basinger, resident and former council member, said the second resolution and list are needed in case the city needs to defend the decision in court.
“They should be stated so the court knows what they are,” Basinger said.
“They’re the reasons we’ve discussed,” Catallo said. “I didn’t sit at home and they popped into my head – I have been here before. I have done this before. You need to have this if you’re going to defend your decisions.”
Percival said a more detailed plan for the property would have been useful.
Jim Eppink, representing the property owners, said rezoning requests don’t include such details, but a conditional rezoning request would.
Eppink said they will consider returning with a proposal for conditional rezoning of the property.
“If you turn us down we can come back and ask for conditional zoning – that’s my understanding,” said Ed Adler, one of the owners, before the votes.
Basinger pointed out city zoning ordinance 19.06, which said “an application for an amendment to the Official Zoning Map (i.e. a rezoning request) that has been denied shall not be reconsidered for one year, unless the applicant demonstrates that conditions have changed.”
“We’ll look at that,” Percival said.