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Tell Street developer hits another red light

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By Vince Luecke

City council declines Ferdinand company's petition to rezone land for storage, office buildings

TELL CITY - A Ferdinand company's plans to construct self-storage units on a 5-acre tract of land along Tell Street, already slowed by unfavorable recommendations by the city's plan commission, hit would could be a permanent red light Monday evening when the Tell City Common Council let die a motion to approve a rezoning request.

Progressive Investment Co. had sought to have land owned by Adam Ramsey east of the Tell City-Perry County Public Library rezoned to a commercial designation from an existing residential-zoning classification.

The company proposed constructing four self-storage buildings and, eventually, two office buildings on the site. The city's plan commission gave unfavorable recommendations to the rezoning this spring, as well as a separate request to vacate portions of two streets. However, company partner Kevin Tretter and attorney Chris Goffinet presented their plans Monday to the city council, which has the final say on rezoning requests.

After 45 minutes of discussion, Councilman John Little motioned to grant the rezoning, but a second to his motion never came, effectively killing the issue, not just for the evening, but perhaps up to a year.

City Attorney James Tyler said the council's actions, coming on the heels of the unfavorable recommendation by the plan commission, likely prevents a similar request from being considered for up to a year.

Speaking in support of the project, Goffinet asked the council to consider the boost to the city's tax base the storage units and office buildings would bring and the little impact on traffic.

"There are only two ways to grow revenue, raise your taxes or increase the tax base," the attorney said, pointing out that the development could generate $270,000 in taxes over a 10-year period.

Goffinet also said the storage units would have a low profile and be shielded by the site's sloping terrain, an earthen berm and landscaping.

Tretter and his partners eyed several sites in the city before settling on the Ramsey-owned land but haven't yet purchased the property.

Most of the opposition to the project centered not on the two proposed office buildings, which would be built at some point in the future, but on the storage units that would be constructed first.

During hearings before the commission, neighbors argued the development wasn't compatible with the rest of the area and would increase traffic.

Plan commission member Kaye Kleeman, who voted against the rezoning this spring, said her position wasn't swayed by the company's second presentation, or by a computer-generated photograph showing the low profile of the buildings. Kleeman said the project doesn't fit in with nearby residential areas and would set a precedent in future rezoning cases.

Goffinet, however, pointed to recent commercial development in the area, including a new Moose Lodge, nearby apartments and public library. He said the project would add little to traffic on the already-busy east-west artery.

When Mayor Barbara Ewing asked if the council was ready to proceed, Little offered his motion to adopt an ordinance making the zoning change. However, no one on the council seconded the motion.

Police Department

The city council voted Monday to authorize using money left over from construction of the city's police station several years ago to help furnish the police chief's office.

At the time of the new station's construction, all offices but then Chief David Faulkenberg were newly furnished, Ewing said.

About $12,000 remains in the fund, but has to be used on the station by June 30. New furnishings matching other offices should cost about $3,000 and the balance may be spent in other areas.

Faulkenberg's successor, Greg Hendershot, wasn't at Monday's meeting, but will be asked to present a plan this month for using the rest of the money.

In other business, the council observed a moment of silence in honor of longtime City Councilman Leroy Williams, who died May 26. He served on the city council from 1960 to 1980 and "sat through many of these meetings over the years," Ewing said.