Marion City Council approves rezoning for Depot, other buildings

On Tuesday, the Marion City Council approved new zoning for the former Laughridge Furniture buildings and the Depot, which will allow for more uses in this key area.

The City Council held a series of public hearings about zonings in Marion at the second regular meeting for April. One of these hearings was about new zoning for several properties on West Henderson and Depot Streets. They were previously zoned as the C-2 General Business District. These properties include several of the former Laughridge Furniture buildings and the Marion Depot.

City Manager Bob Boyette said these properties have long been considered part of Marion’s downtown area. The city staff recommended that they be zoned C-1 Central Business District like other downtown properties.

Joe Wheeler is the new owner of a building next to the Marion Depot and he attended Tuesday’s meeting. Wheeler and his wife DeAnn, who are from Black Mountain, plan to use this building for mixed use development including residential and commercial uses. Boyette said they plan to live in the building and also turn another part of it into a shop or some other small business.

In addition, Keeper’s Cut Meadery will open in another building in this section.

The C-1 zoning district allows for such mixed use development, as well as not requiring setbacks, parking or landscaping requirements, according to city officials.

During the public hearing, the council did not hear any comments from the public, including Wheeler. Council voted unanimously to approve the new zoning.

In a similar matter, council approved assigning the C-2 General Business District zoning to the 30-acre property along N.C. 226 South and Interstate 40, which will be the location of a Holiday Inn Express and other commercial development. This action was taken after a public hearing which drew no comments.

Council also adopted an ordinance assigning the PR Parks and Recreation District zoning to city-owned land next to the Joseph McDowell Historical Catawba Greenway. These properties were donated to the city in January by Great Meadows Inc. This action was taken after a public hearing which drew no comments.

“It is a good addition and it brings that property all together,” said Mayor Pro Tem Billy Martin.

In other business, the Marion City Council:

• Approved the annexation of the McKinney property on Forsythe Street, effective immediately. This property consists of .27 of an acre and one house. City officials also adopted an ordinance assigning the R-2 Neighborhood Residential District zoning to the Forsythe Street/McKinney annexation area. Both of these actions were taken after public hearings, which drew no comments.

• Approved the R-2 Neighborhood Residential District zoning for the Yancey Road/Whitson property annexation area, located at the intersection of Yancey Road and Sherri Drive. This property consists of three houses. This action was taken after a public hearing which drew no comments

• Talked again about the mowing contract for Oak Grove Cemetery and Morehead Cemetery. Even Grow Lawn & Landscape had to resign from its contract with the city, which was approved last month by council. City officials agreed Tuesday to accept that firm’s resignation and instead go with Miller Lawn Care of Marion, which will do the work for $1,050 a week.

• Approved the holding of a high school tennis camp at the Community Building Park’s tennis courts. McDowell High tennis coaches are organizing the camps and are planning at least one and possibly more this summer. The first camp is tentatively scheduled for mid-June. It will introduce elementary and older students to the game of tennis and they will be able to improve their skills. John Wells, the men’s coach, is one of the leaders in this camp. After a discussion, council voted to allow the camps at the courts. “I think our tennis courts are underutilized,” said Councilman Lloyd Cuthbertson.

• Recognized Erin Adams, who was honored last month as Marion’s Main Street Champion for 2016.