Kirsten Mustain

Grove Sun

At a marathon meeting Tuesday night the Grove City Council voted unanimously to advertise for bids on the construction of a new city swimming pool and fielded public comments regarding the rezoning of a piece of property on U.S. 59 from R-1 (single family residential) to C-3 (commercial).

The proposed pool would be 7,500 square feet with zero entry, a large slide, shade structures, a covered dining area, and a 2,500 square foot bath house/administrative office/concession area.

According to John Paddock of Paddock Pools, said the concrete pool would be poured in one piece on a bed of rock.

"I consider it to be the best structure in the country," Paddock said.

He said the project would take 150 to 200 days to complete and estimated that it would be open July 1, 2010.

The projected cost of the project is $1.5 million, according to City Manager Bruce Johnson.

He said the cost would be covered by the existing capital improvement sale tax.

In other business, citizens from a neighborhood close to a 19-acre tract of land on U.S. 59 behind Grand Lake Prop Shop reiterated the objections to the owner's proposed rezoning of the land from R-1 to C-3 that they had previously raised at a Planning and Zoning hearing last week.

Property owner Sam Robinson had tabled his rezoning application after the Planning and Zoning meeting with the idea of seeking his neighbors' input and putting together a plan that was more agreeable to everyone concerned.

Citizens against the rezoning asked council members to stick with the city's own Land Use Plan, which was formulated in 2003 by a diverse group of community members and designated the property in question as residential.

They stated that they were concerned that a commercial development abutting their homes would drive property values down.

While about 15 people showed up to oppose the rezoning, one person besides Robinson made an appearance to defend it.

Realtor Jim Talbot said the land would best lend itself to commercial use.

"It is not feasible for residential property. There is lots of residential property around Grove that is not sold. We have lots of median income housing. Only a few places on U.S. 59 are available for commercial growth," Talbot said.

He noted that commercial growth would provide more jobs for area residents.

As the public hearing closed, Mayor Gary Bishop told participants to work together and stick to the issues to find a resolution that would be agreeable to everyone.

Another zoning issue before the council was a proposal from Liberty Property Associates, LLC to change the zoning of a parcel of land behind Liberty Storage on U.S. 59 from R-1 to R-2 (residential – duplex).

Randy Wheeler of Liberty Property Associates brought his plans, prepared by local architect Dennis Brown, for two-story townhouses to be built on the site.

He said he felt the duplexes would provide an "excellent buffer" between the single family homes in the area and his commercial property.

Several residents of the neighborhood opposed the rezoning, stating that the streets are not big enough to handle the traffic and that residential lake front homes would lose their value if rental units were built across the street.

However, at the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board Grove City Council approved the rezoning four to one with Gary Trippensee casting the one dissenting vote.

In other business the council voted to accept a bid of $236,114 for a storm drainage upgrade, which is planned to improve drainage along Fourth Street in the Johnny Cox Edition.

The project will be funded by a REAP grant and $60,000 from the Hospital Trust Authority, which will pay for the materials and cover an upgrade of the sewage system to handle the new hospital facility.

In addition, the council voted to hire a consultant who will be charged with the task of bringing new retail establishments to Grove.

The consultant has had past success, generating record retail growth in cities like Owasso, according to Ward II Council Member Marty Follis.

The city will pay $12,000 per year for the consultant’s services, and an additional fee of $8,000, which will cover a demographic study of the area. Information garnered in the study will belong to the city.

Council members concurred that hiring the consultant was a good idea, commenting that they might be able to do the same thing he would do, but that he had connections now and it would take them much longer.

“This should be a good deal for the city,” Ward III Council Member Larry Parham said.