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Planning meeting ends in argument

Staff writer

An argument prompted by split votes to approve a conditional use permit and rezoning for a Family Dollar store broke out after Thursday’s meeting of Marion’s planning and zoning commission.

Commission member Darvin Markley, his face darkened, confronted planning and zoning administrator Margo Yates.

“Are we helping this community out?” Markley said. “No!”

Yates, who also is secretary of the commission, reports its recommendations to the city council.

“How long have you been on the board, Margo?” Markley said. “You’ve been on this board longer than I have.”

Yates, who works as community enrichment coordinator for the city, said she faced a predicament because mayor David Mayfield and city administrator Roger Holter repeatedly pressured the planning group to rezone the industrial park so the store could be built.

“I don’t know what you want me to do,” Yates said. “I could get fired, but that’s all I can do.”

Yates said ongoing disagreement between the commission and the council has “taken a good quarter of a century off my life.”

Markley compared the process at Hillsboro with the process at Marion.

“You look at Hillsboro. It’s all nice,” he said. “You look at Marion, and it’s a cobbled mess.”

Markley said the planning group needed to get legal council to straighten out the matter.

“We’re supposed to be holding people accountable,” he said.

On both the permit and the rezoning of several industrial park lots for commercial use, Terry Jones, Brent Miles, and Jackie Crofoot voted in favor and Markley voted against.

Markley said he was concerned that the applicant, the developer of a Family Dollar store, did not show up for the commission’s public hearing on the permit.

After the city council voted Feb. 22 to rezone the plot, the zoning change was “a done deal,” Yates said.

“This is the weirdest, most unprecedented thing I’ve ever heard of,” Yates said.

Markley said the council agreeing to transfer land to Family Dollar and ultimately taking the matter into its own hands and rezoning despite no planning and zoning hearing was “frustrating.”

“The way I see it, the residents have been cheated out of due process,” he said. “I think if anyone challenges it in court, the court will send it right back to us.”

Jones, who attended by phone because he was out of state, said he was in favor of approving the permit so the recommendation could go to the council.

“If there’s anything wrong with what was done, it wasn’t done by us,” Jones said.

The commission actually didn’t approve the same thing the council did. The commission voted to rezone only lots along US-56, not lots extending to the proposed Family Dollar location. But it did endorse a conditional use permit allowing the store.

Last modified March 17, 2022

 

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