ST. MARYS — Zoning on recently annexed land into the city along County Road 33A will wait a little longer.
Members of the St. Marys Planning Commission Tuesday night voted to table the zoning of 32.4 acres of land that was recently annexed into the city. Board members decided to table the matter after a few adjacent property owners, who own land outside the city limits, questioned the proposed industrial zoning of one of the parcels during a public hearing before the meeting.
Under the proposal presented to planning commission members, 6.2 acres of land owned by St. Marys Missionary Baptist Church would be zoned R-5, residential, 6.6 acres of land owned by John R. Hirschfeld would be zoned I-1, industrial, and 19.5 acres of land owned by New Community Church would be zoned I-1, industrial.
A few residents spoke out against the zoning of the New Community Church tract, noting they did not want a heavy industrial operation moving into their backyards.
Interim Safety-Service Director Craig Moeller said there has been some interest in the parcel in recent weeks.
However, he described the interest as light industrial.
“Right now I will tell you we have had some interest in this property,” Moeller said. “Some of it has been residential, some of it has been industrial usage. The industrial side was light industry — nothing recycling or junk yards. Just small shop-type stuff has been looking at it and really haven’t heard any confirmation from anyone.”
Moeller said New Community Church recently purchased a facility on Greenville Road, so officials no longer needed to parcel for a facility. Moeller said he suggested zoning the parcel I-1 because it is the least restrictive in terms of zoning and making changes.
“If we zoned it a commercial zone or a residential zone and all of a sudden we have this light manufacturing that wants to come in there and they want to rezone the parcel to industrial, it is more difficult to zone a parcel, if it’s commercial or residential, to an industrial zone,” Moeller said. “It could mean that their land is less valuable by them locking it into say a residential or commercial zone at this point.”
Moeller said he discussed all possible zoning options with the parcel owners, who were not present during the meeting. Moeller again stressed there was some interest in the parcel if zoned I-1.
“If we zoned it I-1, it is a possibility that a machine shop or small trade could go in there,” Moeller said. “New Community is in the pickle because they bought the land and now decided to sell it and make sure that they can sell it. It’s just hard to say.”
Moeller said the unknowns surrounding the future development of the parcel lent it to be proposed to be zoned industrial.
“You can go from industrial down to residential pretty easy,” Moeller said.
“If it does get zoned industry and someone comes in with a residential use, you guys obviously wouldn’t be here being concerned about it. But if we zoned it residential and there’s a guy who comes in here wanting to go an industry use, you guys would definitely be right back up here. That’s why we typically, in this unknown circumstance, we suggested it be industrial.”
Planning Commission Member Stan Davis noted the commission could approve or reject the request, they could not alter the zoning. That, he noted, would have to come from a property owner.
With the issue tabled, Moeller said a special meeting would be called in the future. Another public hearing would be held to gather input before commission members make a decision.