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Street issue divides P&Z Commission

City council will have final say on closing block of Eighth Avenue North as part of hospital project

July 26, 2017
David Swartz - Managing Editor (dswartz@esthervillenews.net) , Estherville News

The Estherville Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday voted 4-3 to recommend to city council to not approve a request from Avera Holy Family Hospital to close Eighth Avenue North between North Eighth and Ninth streets.

Hospital officials want to close the street as part of the planned expansion of the emergency room.

Avera Holy Family CEO Dale Hustedt said the primary reason for the request is the safety of patients and visitors. The hospital plans to build two new parking lots on the land it owns south of Eighth Avenue North with a portion of the plan encompassing the block of street in question.

Most of the discussion centered on Iowa Code, which states that a road can only be vacated if it not needed for use by the public.

"It is the responsibility (of this commission) is not to look at one special interest concert, but the entire city and transportation plan," said commission member Steve Woodley.

A traffic count study by the Iowa Department of Transportation conducted in July 2015 indicated the street in question had 1,128 vehicles on that street. It is also one of the few through streets, traveling from Fourth Street to Thoreson Park on 15th Street.

Fact Box

About the Planing and Zoning Commission

The Estherville Planning & Zoning Commission consists of a seven-member board appointed by the city council to serve a five year term. Duties of the board include: consideration of changes to the Zoning Ordinance, Zoning Map and Comprehensive Plan, review of proposed sub-division plats, and Special Exception Use Permit applications.

The Planning & Zoning Commission meets only when applications have been submitted for Commission action. Meetings are held in the council chambers of city hall located at 2 N. Seventh St.

Commission chairman John Semrad reminded the members that their vote is only a recommendation. The Estherville City Council will have the final say on the issue.

All the commission members indicated they are in favor of the hospital's plan for expanding the emergency room, which will not extend as far as the street.

Commission member Cindy Hood, one of the three voting against making a negative recommendation, thought there was a safety issue and also alternative routes drivers can take if the street was vacated.

Woodley, Semrad and commission members Dorothy Christensen and Betty Fiddler voted yes on the motion.

The other no votes were cast by Roy Gage and Nancy Clark.

The issue will next go to city council for the final decision.

 
 
 

 

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