by TaLeiza Calloway
It took several votes by officials recently to determine the rezoning of a property for a proposed development just north of the city.
During a joint meeting of the St. Joseph City Council and St. Joseph Township supervisors, officials wrestled with whether the proposed development fit within the city’s comprehensive plan and if it was the best use of the property that lies south of 320th Street in the orderly annexation area of St. Joseph Township.
Cory Ehlert spoke on behalf of the property-owner, Roma L. Notch Revocable Trust, in request of the rezoning of the property from Urban Expansion to R-5 Residential. The request allows a continuation of the platting process for the development of 12 single-family homes on 62.5 acres.
“We felt from the start this was the right parcel for this type of development,” Ehlert told officials Aug. 29. “It’s consistent with the types of lot splits that are in that area.”
Two votes were needed to rezone the property from Urban Expansion to R-5. Township supervisors unanimously voted to rezone the property. City council members voted 3-2 against the rezoning. Votes of approval from the township board and city council were needed to rezone.
City Council member Bob Loso said he voted against the rezoning because he wanted disclosure of possible annexation into the city and estimated costs of potential assessments if the property is annexed into the city, a number not easily accessible because it is uncertain if and when annexation would occur, officials said.
Ehlert explained he would work to get estimates from the city’s engineer and include this information in the documentation for the proposed development. After hearing that, Loso made a motion for council members to reconsider the rezoning request and vote again. A motion was then made by Loso to rezone the property to R-5. The vote was seconded by council member Renee Symanietz. The vote was 3-2 to rezone the property, with council members Steve Frank and Dale Wick voting against it.
During the meeting, Wick expressed concern the development was not consistent with what was planned for the area and the cost of extending utilities to the subdivision.
City Engineer Randy Sabart explained one of the challenges extending utilities into a rural subdivision is it tends to be very costly.
“Due to the large-lot nature, they are very intensive on infrastructure,” Sabart said. “Cities have more difficulty levying special assessments to gain cost-sharing by property owners.”
With the rezoning approved, the next step is a meeting later this month by the joint planning board to discuss and review the platting process.