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by Mark Cheffey
The Marion County Planning & Zoning Commission last Thursday held the first hearing on a rezoning request that, if approved, would open the way for a 34-lot residential subdivision north of Palmyra.
Mike and Kathy Wear are seeking to rezone 127 acres of property bordered on the west by U.S. 61 and to the south by CR 361 (Old U.S. 61) from agricultural to rural residential.
The request will receive another hearing in the Marion County Courthouse in Palmyra Thursday, Nov. 11, at which time zoning commission members will vote on a recommendation to the Marion County Commission which has the final say in the matter.
The Wears told the zoning commissioners the subdivision would be divided into 34 lots ranging from three to five acres for 34 homes of no less than 1,800 square feet in size.
They said the subdivision would be done in phases over a time frame dependent on “what the market bears.”
The homes would utilize septic systems for sewage disposal, and the Wears said they have already received approval for 15 lots to be serviced by rural water.
“We can do 15 homes right now, so we figured we might as well do it all as one action,” Mike Wear said while noting discussions continue with various authorities about providing additional water service to the rest of the subdivision.
While the request did not receive any verbal objections from neighboring landowners present at the meeting, several raised concerns about the subdivision including storm water drainage, increased traffic and rural water access.
Mike Drebes said water service is inconsistent for his home and others along the water line that serves the area.
“We’re struggling for water on that road as it is,” he said, indicating there are periodic drops in water pressure.
Increased traffic along CR 361 was also a concern.
“All of a sudden that road becomes very busy,” said Debbie Bock of the addition 34 more homes accessing CR 361.
“You put a lot more vehicles on that road and you’re going to have some issues,” she said.
Others drew attention to the subdivision’s possible affect on storm water drainage.
“We’ve already got a problem,” said Mark Kestner, a neighboring landowner. “And, if you put a lot of homes in there, we’ve got a big problem.”
Others objected to having such a large subdivision so nearby.
“It’s going to change our lifestyle, and it’s something we didn’t sign up for,” said Joanna Obert.
The Wears indicated they would look at all the issues raised but indicated they wanted to obtain the rezoning before spending additional money on engineering work.
Mike Wear also indicated that water service has become a county-wide issue due to an acute need for costly system expansion.
He said he’s had discussions with water providers who are working to seek grant funding for expansion projects.
But, he also said that, if water can be provided to the proposed subdivision, it could also improve water availability for surrounding residents.
“Hopefully, they’ll do something that will help everybody,” Wear said.
The zoning commission also held its annual election of officers with no change in leadership as Charles Webster, president, and Susan Gard, vice president, were both re-elected.