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City planning chairman sorts zoning mess

Staff writer

Joey Hutchison, Peabody planning and zoning’s new chairman, has started researching measures to clear up the city’s zoning regulations.

Hutchison said at Monday’s Peabody City meeting that he met with El Dorado’s city planner to talk over regulations in Peabody.

Peabody’s comprehensive plan does present problems in that it is supposed to be reviewed and updated annually. The plan might not have been adopted properly either, Hutchison said.

“These things would be a bigger issue for a bigger city where things are changing a lot,” he said. “There are a lot of new things coming in, a lot of new construction. We don’t have that here.”

The plan appears to be in line with state statutes, Hutchison said, but he prefers legal advice dissecting any jargon.

“All the goals we had in 2008 I believe will be goals we still have,” he said. “The only thing I’ve seen that changed is that we have high speed Internet. That was one of the big things the comprehensive plan said we needed.”

Hutchison should seek advice from Peabody’s attorney before any decision is made, councilman Rick Reynolds said.

“Talking to the lawyer would probably be the best place to get started,” he said. “See what he says about it.”

Using El Dorado’s city planner as a resource might be advantageous because he does not have a vested interest, Mayor Tom Spencer said.

“Maybe an outsider, who has no skin in the game,” he said. “The city planner in El Dorado, he’s not personally benefitting.”

In other business, councilman Jay Gfeller said the city and Peabody Recreation Commission should look into scaling down their project to renovate Peabody City Park.

The commission is trying to acquire a Community Development Block Grant for the project, but the commission has to raise 25% of the grant total by November.

Grant totals are estimated at $200,000, which would mean the commission needs $50,000, but scaling the project back to $150,000 might be worthwhile, Gfeller said.

“It seems like this is going to be the way to get the project to move forward at this point,” he said. “It’s been in a stalemate for the last six months.”

Scaling down the project could help fundraising efforts as well because it would lower the required portion to a less daunting number, said Peabody business owner Linda Martinez.

“When you start with a smaller amount it doesn’t seem so daunting,” she said. “If I decide I’m going to pledge $50, but we’re this close, I can make 10 more dozen cinnamon rolls and donate the other $50. It’s a mental game.”

Alan Gillen was sworn in as the city’s newest councilman, taking the seat vacated by Steve Rose. Reynolds and Gfeller, as well as Spencer, reprised their seats.

Last modified Jan. 16, 2020

 

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