Council fails to accept lot proposal

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     After the Monticello City Council could not come to an agreement at their last meeting concerning the city-owned lot at 224 N. Chestnut St., the council remained at an impasse yet again during the Sept. 18 meeting.

     The 3-3 vote failed when it came to passing a resolution. Half of the council (Tom Yeoman, Johnny Russ and Dave Goedken) voted in favor of Norm Zimmerman’s proposal to paying $20,000 for the lot to build a new two-story home, accompanied by a two-story carriage-style building in the back. The other half of the council (Chris Lux, Brian Wolken and Rob Paulson) voted for Tom Harmon and the Lambert family’s proposal to add onto Harmon’s home and garage. Harmon would sell the property on the east side of the alley to the Lamberts for their purposes as well. Harmon is proposing to offer $25,000 for the lot.

     While the council could not come to an agreement, City Administrator Doug Herman suggested the resolution could be termed a motion at the next council meeting, meaning it would need 4-2 to pass, or the mayor could vote to break a tie.

     Tom and Lisa Harmon were present, as was Zimmerman and members of Lambert family.

     Harmon said as his wife’s eyesight deteriorates, they’d like to remodel their home as a single-level so she could safely get around.

     He suggested that the only hang-up with some members of the council is how much property taxes the city could get from the property.

     “That doesn’t seem right to me,” he said. Harmon said the addition he plans to add, as well as the work by the Lamberts would come close that of Zimmerman’s.

     Several suggested that Zimmerman consider building this home elsewhere within the city on another open lot. If both Zimmerman and the Harmons built their proposals, the share of city property taxes would greatly increase.

     Pat Lambert said after years of both parties (Harmons and Lamberts) having to deal with the condition of the lot when it was owned by Al Hughes, it’s only right that they be allowed to purchase it to better their respective properties.

     “I can’t understand why the city council would be so disrespectful to the neighbors and not sell them the lot,” and Pat. “The difference between the two projects would be so minimal. If the neighbors want the property, they should get first pick. I don’t feel we’re given our fair shake with this, not since day one when the home burned down.”

     Pat said they have complained about Hughes’ nuisance property for years and nothing was ever enforced.

     Mayor Dena Himes took offense to that statement. As a member of the council since the mid-‘90s, she said she always voted to have something done to the property.

     Herman, who spoke with the county assessor, said the taxable value of an addition compared to a new home would be $50,000 to $200,000. The amount of property taxes both would bring into the city was estimated at $775 to $3,100 a year.

     “Taxes are important in a small community,” commented Himes, “so we can continue to provide services for everyone.”

     Goedken commented, “A house has been there forever. I don’t see why there’s an issue seeing one go back up?” He said it’s important to maintain the character of the neighborhood with a similar structure.

     He also reminded everyone that during a closed session, the council’s ultimate decision was to see a new home built.

     “I think it’s really petty,” Harmon said. “It’s not the government’s priority to see how much tax dollars you can get (out of the land).”

     Council member Brian Wolken added that during the closed session, no one considered whether a neighbor to Hughes would be interested in the lot. Something that was overlooked.

     Michele Lambert Glanz said not considering Harmon’s proposal is a “stab in the back,” as a neighbor who’s had to put up with so much.

     “We do care about the neighborhood,” added Patrice Lambert, who grew up on N. Chestnut St. “We’ve lived there for a long time.”

     Zimmerman finally came to the podium, saying he was shocked by the negative comments.

     “I feel this lot is a great place for a family home,” he said of his intentions. “I am committed to the architectural design of the area, and I find it tough to see everyone stirred up about this.” He said his design for the house is fitting for the N. Chestnut St. area, no other neighborhood in town.

     As for the city showing Zimmerman any favoritism in this proposal, he said he saw the article in the Express and submitted his proposal just as anyone else could have done.

     With a failed vote, the decision will be on the council’s next agenda.

In other city business:

     • The council approved the first reading of an ordinance changing the speed limit on S. Cedar St. to 20mph northbound after Washington St., and 25mph southbound.

     • The council set a public hearing for Monday, Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. to consider approval of a development agreement between the city and B&J Hauling and Excavation for property along W. First St.

     • The council approved partial abatements at 70 percent associated with the South Street resurfacing project for property owners Kalvin Zimmerman and Michael and Jeanette Elkin. Both owners previously installed concrete driveways before the street project began.

     The city has historically approved partial abatements to project assessments if property owners replaced concrete within the last 10 years.

     • Chad and Renee Adams of Monticello addressed the council during the Open Forum concerning a plat of survey the Adamses are pursuing through the Monticello Planning & Zoning Board. They propose to build a hog barn along Highway 38 within the city’s 2-mile jurisdiction. The barn would hold 2,400 head. The Adamses are purchasing part of the family land to build the hog barn, hence the plat of survey. The property has already been re-zoned Agricultural.

     The council had no concerns with the proposal.

     • The council approved the city’s Urban Chicken Permit Application and fees. The application fee is $20, with a $100 deposit. Each chicken band would cost $3, with a maximum of six chickens allowed.

     The application also calls for the owner to take an urban chicken training course. Jones County Extension & Outreach will conduct a class on Oct. 12.


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