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Linn County, Marion near approval of zoning rules at Marion Municipal Airport

Supervisors give first approval to ordinance

Flight instructor Jan Walton (left) talks with Jean Hammill of Marion as she checks a plane's fuel before an August 2019
Flight instructor Jan Walton (left) talks with Jean Hammill of Marion as she checks a plane’s fuel before an August 2019 flight at the Marion Municipal Airport. The city of Marion and Linn County are approaching an agreement of zoning around the airport, which the city bought in 2015. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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MARION — Linn County supervisors have approved the first reading of a zoning ordinance for the Marion Municipal Airport.

The ordinance details land-use restrictions for residential, commercial, industrial, agriculture and parks and recreation activities in five overlay zones.

Zones A, B, and C — closest to the municipal airport — have the most restrictions, and Zones D and E have fewer restrictions.

Tom Treharne, community development director for Marion, said the ordinance does not change anything for existing development.

Nearby residents told county supervisors in January they were concerned the ordinance would limit what they could build and could hurt the resale value on their property.

But county Planning & Zoning Director Les Beck said the restrictions imposed by the overlay zone, “for the most part, are less restrictive than what’s already in place, based on current zoning in terms of height restrictions. “My take on it is the overlay zones will have minimal impact on properties in the area.”

The county’s Planning & Zoning Commission also held two open houses in December 2019 for landowners.

The Marion City Council on Thursday will consider approving a 28(e) intergovernmental agreement between the city and Linn County for administration of the ordinance. The council approved the ordinance last year.

Linn County was asked to adopt similar regulations because a significant portion of the Marion Airport overlay zone falls in unincorporated land in the county.

All building permit applications within the airport’s overlay zone will be go to Linn County and then to Marion Community Development before going to Linn County Planning & Zoning for final approval.

Linn County sent a mailer to 591 properties within or near the airport overlay zones to alert them the item was up for approval by supervisors this week.

Beck said the county wanted to make sure property owners knew how to call into the meeting, which was being held electronically because of coronavirus restrictions on gatherings.

Supervisors will have the second reading of the ordinance Wednesday, with the third and final reading May 13.

The city of Marion bought the airport in 2015 and is now widening the runway from 23 to 60 feet and adding drain tile, runway lighting and other safety improvements.

Construction of the $1.7 million project began in September 2019. A grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation is providing $424,000, with the city borrowing the remainder in the form of bonds.

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“It’s exciting to see the runway come together and we’re looking forward to getting it open,” Treharne said. “I know this has not been fantastic for people who have planes at the airport. Hopefully, when we get it reopen, there will be rejoicing in a nice, smooth runway.”

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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