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Marion City officials offer awards and explanations
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · November 30th, 2017

Among the many Marion City Council items addressed on Tuesday, November 21, at 4:30 p.m. were Marion firefighters and Marion's Police Chief recognitions and awards presentations, and area residents questioning why current zoning laws have allowed them to see red.

Council member Joe Spinks presented Marion Police Chief Joseph McHale with a Certification of Iowa Law Enforcement, issued on October 4, 2017. "This is a good honor to have for our Chief ... who has been here a year and two months," Spinks said.

Similarly, Marion Fire Chief Deb Krebill presented Captain Robert Schlitter a medal for being first on scene and assuming command by planning and implementing the rescue of a semi driver who was trapped in his cab, submerged in icy pond waters for about an hour. Direct action is critical in a situation such as this, Krebill said.

Under Schlitter's command, an entire team of Marion firefighters and other agencies worked together under hazardous circumstances in the rescue operation that occurred on Highway 151 near Stone Road on December 8, 2016. "I'm very proud of our firefighters," Krebill said.

Krebill also said four individual firefighters in particular - Jeff Hoover, Peter Lammer, Jeremy Smith and Zachary Bruce - worked for almost an hour in 30-degree water and 15-degree air temperatures to free the man who only had a small air pocket to breathe in.

For their outstanding sacrifice, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds presented Hoover, Lammer, Smith and Bruce with the 2017 Sullivan Brothers' Award of Valor on Monday, November 20, at the State Capital in Des Moines. In addition, the Marion firefighters present at the council meeting received a standing ovation for their service.

Also during the meeting, several Marion residents living near a massive, new, shiny red, "hobby garage" built behind the home located at 3851 29th Avenue, addressed the council during the citizen presentations. One nearby resident said it is the craziest thing. "Take another look at your planning system," he said. He also encouraged the Council members to take a look at what has been built.

Another resident whose property was directly impacted by the structure, asked why the commercial-grade pole building was allowed to be built and wondered if anything can be done to prevent another structure like it from being built in the future near residential housing.

The man said he is very disappointed the City allowed the building to be built directly behind his property. "That building can be called a garage ... but it is not a garage to me," he said. He also asked when his taxes will be lowered because of this. "It sure did not enhance my property," he proclaimed.

In reply, Spinks said the garage passed all of the tests for approval. And the only stipulation is, it cannot be used as a commercial entity. So there is nothing the City can do unless the garage owner uses it as a commercial building. There is also a storm water review on it, to make sure it does not cause water problems to nearby properties, he added.

There seemed to be confusion about the area's zoning designation. One resident questioned if there are two separate designations (agriculture and residential) in his neighborhood. According to Marion's Planning and Zoning Commission, most of 29th Avenue is residential (R2), but some are still agricultural (A1).

The A1 zoning in the City of Marion Zoning Regulation document "is intended to provide space on the fringes of the developed areas of the City for agricultural, low density residential, and similar non-intensive uses without permitting an intensity of development which would require the provision of urban-type facilities and services."

Assistant Planning and Development Director David N. Hockett later told the Times, homebuyers should always check the zoning designation before purchasing property in Marion. According to, "The Planning and Zoning Commission makes recommendations to the City Council regarding rezoning, preliminary and final plats, site plans and certain ordinance changes.

"The Commission reviews applications in accordance with approved regulations pertaining to all zoning districts within the City of Marion. The Commission also gives reasonable consideration to the character of districts and their unique suitability for particular uses, with a view toward conserving the value of buildings, encouraging the most appropriate use of land throughout the City, and encouraging compliance with the approved Comprehensive Plan."
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