City largely side steps request to rescind rezone vote
MONROE - A resident’s letter asking the City Council to rescind its vote to approve a land-use change and rezone that was based on a flawed environmental study has largely been ignored.
Lowell Anderson challenged the city’s phased final environmental impact statement, and the city’s hearing examiner found the study was “profoundly lacking in detailed environmental analysis” and “inadequate as a matter of law.”
Only three council members responded to our request for comment. The three were Patsy Cudaback, Jim Kamp and Jason Gamble.
The Tribune sent out e-mails Aug. 8 and 17 requesting response from council members. Phone calls also attempted to contact the members and were mostly rebuffed or not returned.
The study evaluated land that Heritage Baptist Fellowship has invested years into getting rezoned. The church’s rezone requests were denied several times in the past by the city’s planning department, planning commission and council before current elected officials allowed the rezone request to be revisited.
Public works director Brad Feilberg, who wrote the disputed study that now begs the question of the necessity of allowing the rezone, told the Tribune on Aug. 2 that he had never even seen Anderson’s letter.
Anderson’s letter was submitted to City Hall on July 30 and asked the City Council to rescind its decision to approve a comprehensive plan amendment allowing a controversial rezone of 50 acres known as the East Monroe rezone.
The flood-prone farmland has significant environmental and traffic constraints. It currently lacks infrastructure to support commercial development.
Cudaback and Gamble voted against the rezone in July, which passed the council 4-2.
Gamble said last week that he stood by his vote and thinks the rezone decision should be rescinded. Cudaback called to tell the Tribune that she “stands by her vote.”
Councilman Jim Kamp, who voted for the rezone, said he appreciated Anderson’s request and thought that the next step would be for the city to consult its attorney on the matter.
“Having read the (hearing examiner)’s decision, I can understand the basis for it and have no issues regarding it,” Kamp said.
He added that he has always hoped, since his days on the planning commission, that “every issue be given a fair hearing. I believe East Monroe was finally given a fair review by the planning commission and council, and the council decision was correct based on the information at hand.”
Councilman Tom Williams said he declined to comment because he didn’t believe the Tribune wrote balanced articles. He voted in favor of the rezone.
All other council members left the Tribune’s attempt at contacting them unaddressed.
Should the church or the city appeal the hearing examiner’s decision, they would have to go to Superior Court