July 13, 2006

Health Department’s Rezoning Request Hits Snag

A plan to construct a new home for the Scotland County Health Department hit a snag at the July 6th meeting of the Memphis City Council. The board of aldermen voted 2-1 to table a request by the health department to rezone the property located northeast of the intersection of Cecil and Madison Streets.

Health department administrator Margaret Curry indicated the property had recently been purchased from the Northeast Missouri Health Council. The health department owns lots 7, 8, and 9 of Cecil’s subdivision. The property is located east of the Scotland County Memorial Library.

A request was filed by the health department on June 19 to rezone the property from residential to commercial property to allow the construction of a new building to house the health department, which currently is renting office space from Scotland County Memorial Hospital.

A public hearing regarding the request was held prior to the city council meeting. Three property owners that adjoin the health department’s ground were present to contest the rezoning request.

The individuals voiced concerns regarding increased traffic, parking congestion and possible negative effects on property values that could accompany the construction of a health department building in the residential neighborhood.

Alderman Ron Gardner questioned why the health department had purchased property zoned residential.

Curry indicated the board of directors believed the property was already zoned commercial as the former owner had reportedly considered construction of a building to house the health council’s local doctors’ offices.

Alderman Chris Feeney stated he was hesitant to grant a rezoning request when adjoining landowners were opposed to such a move.

“I am in favor of the health department being able to build a new facility,” Feeney stated. “I think it would be an improvement. But I can’t honestly say that I would want a lot in my neighborhood rezoned to commercial, allowing someone to construct a building that would change traffic patterns or otherwise impact my home.”

Feeney stated he was in favor of tabling the issue to allow the health department additional time to pursue some type of agreement with the neighboring property owners.

“Right now I cannot vote to approve the rezoning,” he stated. “However, by tabling the issue, we allow the health department the opportunity to try to resolve some of the issues related to the application, meaning the council could reconsider the proposal without the health department having to file a new application for rezoning.”

Alderman Brian Brush voiced his frustration with the process, pointing out that the health department had followed the legal course of action and was being turned down.

“These people did everything we asked them to do in order to have this property rezoned,” Brush said. “Yet we have other property owners that simply ignore the rules and just do whatever they want, and they get away with it. I don’t think that is fair to the health department.”

The council voted 2-1 to table the issue with Aldermen Feeney and Gardner voting aye, and Brush casting the lone dissenting vote. Alderman Lucas Remley was not present for the meeting.

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