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Morning Sun
  • Council considers Westland zoning

  • The Westland Acres Subdivision that includes the Dollar General store is ready for building, but the Arma City Council spent a good chunk of time Monday evening discussing exactly what type of building might be best.

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    The Westland Acres Subdivision that includes the Dollar General store is ready for building, but the Arma City Council spent a good chunk of time Monday evening discussing exactly what type of building might be best.

    Previous work by prior councils resulted in the area being zoned for single-family residential, and utility work began at the north end of the area in preparation. 

    Since then, the area where the Dollar General sits was purchased and rezoned, and Arma resident Mary Lou Peace brought a proposal to the council asking that a strip mall or other commercial building be considered along the same corridor.

    “My question to this city council is, if an experienced manager thinks this location has potential, are you willing to entertain the idea and look into the possibility of such potential growth and development?” Peace asked.

    She then asked each council member whether he would be willing to consider the possibility of a strip mall if it had real potential, and each said yes, although council member Johnnie Logiudici asked about the profitability of strip malls and council member Ray Vail voiced questions about traffic and future developments.

    She also asked whether there would be support for polling residents about preferred shops for a strip mall.

    Peace also noted concern about a platted park in the current development plans, including the proximity to a major highway.

    Engineer Jim Zibert also was at the meeting to discuss the same development, and said a strip mall could bring more revenue, but would require some intentional planning.

    “When you try to mix residential and commercial, sometimes it doesn’t work,” Zibert said.

    But, he noted commercial development has begun and the four-lane highway may be a game-changer.

    “It’s already started on the corner,” he said. “The ball game’s getting ready to change.”

    Mayor Buddy Bualle reminded the council that the area already is zoned and any changes would have to be done through the planning commission.

    Page 2 of 3 - City Clerk Bette Lessen added that the park was created to prevent driveways from emptying onto County Highway 640.

    City Attorney Rick Smith tried to rein in the discussion.

    “Generally you don’t begin the process of changing the zoning until you have a potential client,” Smith said.

    “If there is a person out there giving consideration to this, that would be a game-changer,” Bualle said. “If there’s someone with that kind of interest, we want to look into it. We never want to turn our backs on a potential business or businesses.”

    Zibert said the original plan came with a sanitary sewer system built at the north end that could accommodate any configuration, whether the original plan or not.

    “We may have changed the ball game a little, but even if we change the game you’ll still have the capacity,” Zibert said.

    He added there would be a few more hoops to jump through to actually change the game.

    Council members then summarized where each stood.

    Council member Dick Cleland said it seems not to be wise to turn the area into housing when commercial development along a major highway could be a better asset in the long run.

    Council member Rock Anderson said no matter what the city has a lot of work to do before selling any lots.

    Council member Richard Kerley noted that the evening’s discussion gives people a chance to begin thinking.

    Vail said the council needs to come up with a definite plan, but to do something.

    Logiudici said he could see beginning development at the north end.

    Bualle noted that once lots begin to sell the city likely is locked into a plan.

    Anderson said he believes the council has to move forward with its current plan, and Cleland said he would like to see it divided between commercial and residential, but that he wants to see the city sell what it can.

    Page 3 of 3 - “If we wait on one, we wait on the other,” Kerley said, adding that the city needs to figure out what belongs there.

    The council also discussed dangerous structures and nuisance properties, signs and awnings, the status of the police truck and city tornado policies to be published in the newspaper.

    They will meet June 17 at the Arma Library, with an open house at 6:30 p.m. and meeting at 7.
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