A townhouse and commercial development for Pepsin Hill has been put on hold by the Monticello city council amid possible traffic and pedestrian concerns.
Council members on July 27 failed to waive a first reading for the planned unit development, which includes several permits needed for the proposal put forth by developer Spencer Atkins to proceed.
City Council procedure requires two readings at different meetings before action can be taken on an ordinance, unless the first reading is waived. Since the first reading was not waived, the planned unit development will be see its second reading and possible council action on Aug. 10.
Derrick Bruhn of Topflight Grain Co. told the council that about 1,500 grain trucks go by Pepsin Hill each fall on their way to the grain storage facilities in Monticello. That is about one-third of the total that is delivered to grain bins, he said.
“The biggest concern is safety,” said Bruhn, who also thanked the city for its support in the past.
“You guys have been very supportive of Topflight Grain and the growth we’ve had, and I appreciate that,” he added. “We look forward to continued growth. We just have concerns of this development and what that would mean in an industrial area.”
The Pepsin Hill proposal includes not only 21 townhouses and three commercial/retail structures, but a reworking of North Park Street to ease a curve onto Railroad Street, something city officials hope will help traffic flow.
Atkins said a walkway included in the proposal was meant to keep pedestrians safe, and added that multifamily housing followed the city’s request for proposal.
“We thought we were following the RFP,” he said. “The last thing we want to do as an organization is put safety at risk or harm.”
Rachel LeJeune of Willow Tree Missions spoke in favor of the townhouses, noting that rentals are currently at a premium in Monticello and average $1,000 per month.
“In my position, I help about 60 victims of domestic violence a year, and usually that means finding new homes for 40 or 50 of them,” she said. “Frequently we have to go out of Monticello to get them into a more affordable rental.”
She feels that there is a shortage of rentals, and that the addition of more would open up some of the lower-cost ones in town for Willow Tree to use when needed.
Voting to waive the first reading were Tammy Sebens, Pam Harlan and Rodney Burris. Voting against it were Mary Vogt, Wendall Brock, Mike Koon and John Frerichs.
Consideration of a purchase and sales agreement with Atkins for the Pepsin Hill property was also pushed back until the city addresses the zoning measures. The agreement calls for the property to be sold for $160,000, minus credits that may be earned through tax increment financing development agreements.
Aldermen approved three other zoning requests: One will allow Monticello Christian Academy to operate a private school in the North State Street Professional Building at 1109 N. State St.; another will allow for another use at 450 W. Main St. to accommodate a nine-hole miniature golf course; and the other waives height limits and will allow lighting for a sign at Sage Woods on the Kirby Medical Center Campus.