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by Mark Cheffey
The Marion County Planning & Zoning Commission last Thursday, held the first hearing for a zoning request that, if approved, would open the way for development of a public port terminal on the Mississippi River at West Quincy.
The request, brought to the zoning commission by representatives of the Marion/Ralls Regional Port Authority, will receive a second hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at which time the commission is expected to issue a recommendation.
The issue will then go before the Marion County Commission Monday morning, Sept. 26, for final action.
The port authority is seeking to rezone 87 acres situated south of U.S. 24 along the river, from commercial to M-1 Industrial for a proposed public port terminal which would provide barge, rail and truck services and is “well positioned to provide multi-modal connections to enhance the economic vitality of the Tri-State area.”
Corey Mehaffy, executive director of the port authority, told zoning commissioners that project is still in the early planning stages, but numerous companies in the region have expressed strong interest in public river port access to the Mississippi River.
“And our goal is to make that happen,” Mehaffy said.
Mehaffy described for the commission the various steps the port authority would be taking in developing the project, including permit processes with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and indicated the time-line for the project was undetermined.
However, he said the port authority, which has been dormant for a number of years, was very much active in its efforts to established a long-proposed public port.
Originally, the Marion County Port Authority, it has now added Ralls County which showed interest in joining forces.
Mehaffy said such a port would be a benefit to many companies in the region and would be a source of increased commercial activity.
Dick Rupp, a zoning commission member, said he was glad the port authority was active again in seeking establishment of a public port, however, he expressed some concern about how the project might boost vehicle traffic along an already busy U.S. 24 corridor through West Quincy.
Mehaffy acknowledge an increase in traffic, but also said efforts would be made to work with the Missouri Department of Transportation about improving safety, such as through the addition of deceleration and accelerations lanes at the access junction.
The planning and zoning commission also recommended the rezoning of 10-acres or less along Mo. 6 on the north side of Marion County, from agricultural to C-2 Commercial to allow expansion of a storage facility.
The recommendation subsequently received official final approval Monday by the Marion County Commission which voted for it unanimously.
Andy and Erin Johnson were originally seeking to rezone 20.8 acres in order to construct a 200 feet by 20 feet storage structure with a single-slope roof and 44 doors on the east end of the property.
However, the Johnson’s were agreeable to reducing the acreage for rezoning after neighboring landowners questioned the need for 20.8 acres when the proposed storage facility would take up less than an acre.
Planning and zoning members asked the Johnsons to consider cutting the acreage by at least half, and they were agreeable to the change.
When the county commission took up the recommendation, the amount of land to rezone had been reduced to a little over eight acres which also included the access road.
In other business, the zoning commission honored Charles Webster upon his retirement from the commission.
Members also elected Susan Gard as the new chairman, taking up the position formerly held by Webster.
Andy Lehenbauer was elected vice chair.