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City Council discusses rezoning, right-of-way issues

The Lennox City Council met Tuesday, May 28 in the Lennox City Boardroom. Mayor Danny Fergen and Aldermen heard agenda items including rezoning, right-of-way discussions and bank changes. 

The City of Lennox has received an application to rezone the Creekside Addition from Single-Family Residential to Multi-Family Residential. 

“This application was received by the City from the current owner of the property, Lennox Area Development Corporation. The application was heard by the Lennox Planning Commission at a Public Hearing on March 28, 2024, with no one speaking in opposition. The ordinance is scheduled for a Public Hearing tonight per our requirements. This property at the corner of West 4th Avenue and South Cleveland Street. The property was previously platted for several properties but did not develop. LADC re-platted the parcel into one large parcel for future development. As you may recall, the Comprehensive Plan is the guiding document we use when evaluating the merit of zoning applications. The Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use map identifies this property for future residential development and does not distinguish between single family or multi family. The proposed zone is consistent with the intent of the future land use map and the Comprehensive Plan. Property owners along West Court Avenue have requested the right-of-way be vacated, improved to a street or improved to a gravel street,” City Administrator, Nate Vander Plaats said. 

Mayor Fergen opened the floor up for public comment on the matter. Ryan Solberg with the Lennox Area Development Corporation stood to give a presentation that had been prepared on the subject. 

“LADC really took an interest in this property for a few key reasons. One being it’s location, once it’s developed and it’s made accessible for sewer and water, it does open up for future acreages to the West and East for development,” he said. 

To Solberg’s knowledge, no new units have been constructed in Lennox that would allow for rental housing or senior housing since 2019. A motion was made to approve the first reading of Ordinance 650, motion carried.

Property owners on West Court Avenue have requested the right-of-way be vacated, improved to a street, or improved to a gravel street.  

“This issue was presented to you at the May 13 regular meeting with property owners requesting a variety of actions be taken with the existing right-of-way. Initially, the property owners had asked that the City vacate the remaining right-of- way through this area. However, Mr. Nelson requested a street be constructed either paved or unpaved. Given the size of the remaining right-of-way, constructing a street is simply not possible,” Vander Plaats said.  

Vander Plaats also made note that no property in the area is landlocked despite what was mentioned in the last meeting and street access is available to every property that was discussed. The City engineer has proposed a buffer zone in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan which will include draining work and looping of water to Cedar Street. 

“I did request a cost estimate for that buffer zone and I did receive a few messages from Mr. Poppens last week that indicated no further interest in pursing the vacation, but I think for the time being, we’ll just keep moving and proceed with the work so that a decision can be made one way or another,” he said. 

Mayor Fergen opened the floor for public comment. 

Mark Luvaas took to the podium to voice his opinion. “The first thing I’d like to notice, I read that memo before coming down tonight. That memo needs to be stricken from the record, it is false, Mr. Poppens and I did not message Mr. Vander Plaats and say that this subject was dead. We still want to press forward with the vacation of that property. My question to the council is why would the city keep that property and not turn it over to us and gain money from property taxes? My property is 160’ long on that side by 33’ distance and I pay roughly around $420 to $450 a square foot.  I don’t know why that was ever put in that memo, that wasn’t my call, I still want to leave the conversation open as to whether we vacate. I am fully 100 percent working with the City if we want to put a permanent easement on that property for lower level drainage and sewer,” he said. 

Mr. Vander Plaats was given a moment to respond.

“I’m glad to share the text messages with the Council,” Vander Plaats replied. 

Security State Bank has proposed moving all City bank accounts to their bank. 

“Some of you will recall that consistent banking with a locally owned bank has been a struggle for us. We moved all checking to First Interstate Bank a few years ago, and approximately 16 months ago moved all investments/reserves to a CD account at First Interstate Bank as well. All City of Lennox bank accounts are now held at First Interstate Bank,” Vander Plaats said. 

Security State Bank is planning to build a new location along Highway 44, and with this location being added, Lennox will once again have a local bank in which to conduct business. The Bank has approached the City themselves to propose the idea to the City Council. The expected completion date of the new bank will be in June or July of 2025. The Council agreed to get more information on the situation and make it a future agenda item.


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