New housing option, land rezoning top city council discussion

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Progress.

It’s a term that the City of Joplin is wanting to focus on in 2020 — something that was evident at Monday’s city council meeting. 

Progress as a community stood at the forefront with rezoning plans, subdivisions, and public works discussions topping the agenda. 

The Public Works Department looked to upgrade some of the city’s emergency maintenance equipment, specifically 3 generators, 2 dump trucks with snow plows, and 1 street cleaner. Director David Hertzberg presented to the council a plan that would allocate money to replace the city’s current equipment, but the concern was the amount of time it would take to get these machines ordered, delivered, and up and running within the city. 

“You hope it never snows bad enough to where people can’t get along the streets,” Assistant Director Lyden Lawson explained in the discussion. “But at the same time, you want to make sure you have the best equipment available to get that cleared so they can get out there and use them.”

According to the department, once ordered, the new equipment could take any time between 60 days to 10 months to be in the city’s hands — a concern among several council members. 

“I’m all for having the best equipment — don’t me wrong,” councilman Keenan Cortez added. “It was just a little shocking to me that it would take so long to get something like that.”

The council later voted to allocate the money budgeted for the equipment, but the department adds that although the equipment may take several months to be delivered, the city’s current equipment is sufficient to last for this winter season. 

Another big topic of the night was rezoning, which determines what a property can legally be used for — commonly either commercial and residential. A rezoning request was brought forth to change property at 19th and Michigan (near the 20th Street viaduct) that ended up seeing both support and opposition. 

City leaders heard both sides of the decision, with resident Joel Standeford at the forefront. Standeford explained that the decision could be a great opportunity to bring nearly 100 storage units to the area — given the property sees a low amount of residential appeal as it runs alongside a set of railroad tracks and sits close to the viaduct. 

However, a resident who lives in the same neighborhood as the property came forward in opposition, explaining that adding more traffic to the area would make the neighborhood more dangerous for families in the neighborhood with small children— including hers. 

City leaders also heard input from Planning and Zoning Commission who, after receiving seven letters of petition from other neighbors to nix the idea of rezoning, recommended denying the request. 

This was enough for the council to make a decision — voting overwhelmingly to deny the property rezoning. 

But, it wasn’t just the 19th and Michigan property leaders had their eyes set on — an empty lot at 26th and Roosevelt made its way onto the agenda as well. 

The property, which sits on the northwest corner of the intersection, could soon be the site for a new subdivision. 

According to Assistant to the City Planner, Keegan Stanton, Hal’s Subdivision would have 8 lots for single-family housing along with the option to expand via rezoning.

“Just based off the zoning right now, they haven’t indicated whether they are going to rezone or not but if they decide not to, it will be single-family homes,” Stanton explained. “But the option is up to them as to what they want to do going forward.”

City council leaders approved the finalization of the lot’s design plans under first reading tonight and are expected to house the next round of discussion in two weeks.

Finally, leaders renewed the city’s contract with the Joplin School District to keep trained resource officers staffed in local schools. Chief Sloan Rowland was present to explain the importance of keeping these officers in schools, noting that the new contract was only modified to make it consistent with state and federal law. 

Council approved the renewal, and after a busy agenda on Monday night, leaders will meet again on January 20.

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