City council eliminates Site Planning Review Board

TIMES-REPUBLICAN

After a lengthy discussion city council members voted to give the task of regulating downtown signage to city staff members.

During a public hearing and a third reading by council members Monday night, city council members approved changes to the Marshalltown Zoning Ordinance of 2010 that would eliminate the Site Planning Review Board, a group made of volunteers to help regulate and enforce downtown sign codes.

“It would put all the review material to staff rather than volunteers,” said Stephen Troskey, city planner. “We would also put some paint regulation to the historic district and to Third along Main Street.”

Gary Thompson, a citizen, voiced his concern of handing this process over to the city staff.

“We all want a strong downtown, we want accountability,” Thompson said. “As a taxpayer, as a business owner, we all want a level playing field. The problem I have is we are passing ordinances but we aren’t enforcing them.”

Thompson gave several examples of vacant buildings downtown with signs on them and other signs that need repair.

“Now we are going to give the power of mandating and regulating the signs in our historic downtown area to the department that isn’t even doing their job for the town,” Thompson said. “All I’m asking is for you to take a step back, table this, rethink it, hold some people accountable, yourselves included and let’s make Marshalltown a better town.”

Troskey said city staff does not necessarily know when all the businesses open and closes. When they find out they try to take appropriate steps, Troskey said.

“What we have in this packet is definitive black and white codes, what is allowed and what is not allowed,” Troskey said. “It’s something that I can look at and something that you could look at and something a potential business owner can look at and say this is allowed this is not allowed.”

Joel Greer, 2nd Ward council member, said he loved that Thompson shared his concern with council members. He said Thompson was thinking the same thing other citizens think regarding the town.

“As a volunteer nuisance officer you did a wonderful job in the audience tonight, we commend them,” Greer said. “We have 20 people that volunteer and go around to try and clean up the nuisances.”

However, Greer said he will support the ordinance.

“I will support this ordinance tonight because I do know how difficult it was for volunteers who tried to serve on the board to make those decisions downtown,” Greer said. “I’m all for it.”

Leon Lamer, at-large council member also said he will support the ordinance.

“I’m going to support what we have in front of us but I think we just heard from one of our local citizens that we have a problem in somebody better fix it,” Lamer said. “If we put them on the books let’s enforce them, if not, let’s not put them on the books.”

City council members voted 7-0 to approve the ordinance.

Contact Stephanie Ivankovich at 641-753-6611 or sivankovich@timesrepublican.com