The Washington City Council debated Monday the purpose and definition of a “preservation district.”

Thaddeus Rusk, along with real estate agent Vic Hopkins, wants to turn an eight-acre portion of his property at 906 SR 57S from a preservation district to commercial.

Hopkins, whose zoning change was not acted on at last Wednesday’s Plan Commission meeting, said there is an offer on the property but it is contingent on the property being zoned commercial.

“I know it’s a dilemma to answer the question,” Hopkins said. “But there’s a lot of development in that area. This particular thing is good for commercial development.”

Around Rusk’s property to the south and west is wooded property near the Washington Conservation Club. To the north is Southview Trailer Court, a commercial property.

City Attorney Jeff Norris said there is nothing in either city or state zoning code that gives parameters for a preservation district.

Council members wondered if the area was meant to be a buffer between residential and commercial areas and the conservation club.

“I know it’s not in the book,” Council member Art Biddinger said.

The council, the ultimate decider on zoning issues, did not take any action on a zoning change. Hopkins said Rusk would be willing to put in a 30-foot wooded buffer around the back portion of the property for the neighbors.

Hopkins said the conservation club, by leasing its space for weddings and reunions, is a commercial exercise in a preservation district.

Some neighbors voiced their opposition to commercial property at that area. Jackie O’Bryan, Rusk’s neighbor to the west and south, wants the area kept as it is.

“Preservation district means just that,” O’Bryan said. “It means to keep it there, don’t harm it. Keep it intact.”

Lori Briggs, a resident of Southview Trailer Court, said residents in Southview, a commercial property, deserve the rights of residential owners.

“It’s peaceful back there and I enjoy it very much,” Briggs said. “When you start rezoning for business it starts, to me, stretching into residential property.

The council asked Rusk to come back to the plan commission in two weeks with more evidence and research into the matter. Norris said he wants to do more investigation on what the intent was of creating preservation districts in that area.

In other business:

ZONING ORDINANCE

The council heard and enacted a zoning change near 400 Center St. The change will allow the owner, Tom Stephens, to build a package liquor store at the location.

Because of its location to three streets, a building could not be built without violating setback limits in the C-4 (commercial) classification. With a C-2 classification, a building can be built without violating the limits.

The council suspended rules of procedure and unanimously voted for the zoning change.

HEALTH INSURANCE

A first reading was given on a proposed ordinance to change premiums to the city’s health insurance policy. City employees will have to pay $14 a month instead of $1 a month, if the ordinance passes at the next council meeting.

Deductibles will increase from $150 to $300 for individuals and from $300 to $600 for families.

STOP SIGN

Council members Tom Baumert and Joe Fleck were asked by several constituents if the stop sign at W. Main and N.W. Second streets was needed.

The sign was put in place for the safety of those using Cardinal Care day care. Baumert and Fleck were asked if the sign is needed since the day care is no longer at the old St. Mary’s School.

Haag asked Police Chief Steve Riney to look into the matter.

OLD SAFS BUILDING

Velpen Trucking was awarded a $26,000 bid to demolish the former Senior and Family Services building 101 N.E. Sixth St. The company will demolish the building and fill in the land with gravel.

In other SAFS news, the organization was awarded $1,381 for the second quarter from the city for its Trash to Cash recycling program. Last year, the center received $322 from the city in the first quarter.

Street Commissioner Ernie Evans credits the rise in recycling from area businesses donating used cardboard.

WASTEWATER SOFTWARE

The council and later the Board of Public Works and Safety entered into a contract with Floyd-Hunter Environmental for software for the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

The total, $11,300, will include two programs to track the amounts of waste from the city and create a maintenance schedule for maintaining wastewater equipment.

Joe Tackett, a representative of Floyd-Hunter, said the program will pay for itself in three to five months.

STREET DEPARTMENT CHANGE

The board voted to change Street Department employee Brad Racey from a heavy equipment operator to a working foreman. Racey will receive $1 more an hour in that position.

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