Council Passes Rezone Ordinance

Managing Editor

The development of a requested rezoned residential property off an undeveloped road in the city continued to be the main topic of discussion on Monday at another St. Marys City Council meeting.

Councilors heard an update from Superintendent of Community Services and Engineering Craig Moeller related to concerns from Christopher Kastens, of 590 Locust St., regarding the development of Sturgeon Street, which intersects with Locust Street, from the June 25 meeting.

During the June 25 meeting, Kastens worried about Sturgeon Street — an undeveloped road that had been plotted more than 100 years ago and acts as his driveway as it runs against his property to the east — that if land is developed behind his home, there would be increased and unwanted traffic on the street.

On Monday, Moeller proposed a 24-foot wide pavement on the already plotted Sturgeon Street east of Kastens’ property within a 40-foot easement. Doing this would only leave 2 feet of right-of-way between the east side of the pavement and the east neighboring property at 524 Locust St. Another option is to build a 24-foot road within a 40-foot right-of-way west of Kastens’ property and leave 9 feet of right of way and pavement roughly 17 feet from the Kastens’ home.

“To do that, the right way we would obviously have to have an agreement with the neighbor to the east because Sturgeon Street would have to be vacated in that sense in exchange for the 40-foot [easement] of Sturgeon Street with the 40-foot [easement] on the west side of the house,” Moeller said.

There are also two lots west of Kastens’ property that are available, but those have been recently purchased by Rodney Kiefer and his business, Rodney Kiefer Construction, LLC, a privately-held company in St. Marys, which is looking to develop the 1.605 acres located south of Locust. His proposed residential development can be accessed by Sturgeon Street. 

“Either way you look at it, I am losing something and I just think there should be a better way,” Kastens said. 

Neither option would have sidewalks on the street, which is something Kiefer said he is used to being required to do. 

“I am willing to work with whatever is presented,” Kiefer said. “We agreed not to do sidewalks in an effort so he [Kastens] does not lose as much room. It’s hard to swallow for someone who wants to develop something and I am required to put in sidewalks everywhere else, but we are not going to put in sidewalks here. 

“I feel like I have been very open to the decisions that have been requested, I try to be as open as possible.”

The debate over Kiefer’s development stems from his request to rezone the parcel from an R-3 single family residential to an R-5, multi-family residential. The Planning Commission motioned to recommend the rezoning by a majority vote of three in favor and two against the request in May. 

There was an added stipulation that a restriction be placed on the deed to restrict the land to no more than eight total dwelling units.

Kiefer told council on Monday that his goal is to construct four duplexes. 

Currently, without a zone change, Kiefer said he could construct two quadplexes, two houses or two duplexes.

“… Which is the same amount of traffic, the same amount of people and the same amount of apartments,” he added.

Council returned the tabled Ordinance 2019-12 — rezone the land to R-5 — from the June 25 meeting and passed it, with Councilman At-Large Dan Uhlenhake voting “no” on the measure.