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City council denies request to vacate

May Street
An aerial view shows the piece of land petitioned for vacation. (Submitted Graphic)

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington City Council voted unanimously to deny the request by Bruce and Beverly Kness for the city to vacate part of May Street.

The petition was first discussed at the Dec. 9 city council meeting . As explained by Director of Engineering Dwayne Haffield two weeks ago, the Knesses view maintenance of the city-occupied tract of land as inadequate. They asked for the city to vacate so ownership would pass to them.

Although the public hearing was completed Dec. 9, more of the Knesses' neighbors appeared at Monday's council meeting and were invited to state their positions.

Karen Freese, who lives across the street, listed a number of reasons she was opposed to the city granting the vacation request.

"The property has some monetary value," she said. Because the city does not have the title to the land, it's unable to sell the property to the Knesses. In vacating the premises, the city would effectively be giving away 80 feet of lakefront.

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"It limits the value of those neighbors," noted Freese, who also cited concern about maintenance of the historic retaining wall, which begins at Chautauqua Park and stretches across several property lines.

"It would be to our advantage if someone were to take care of that," she said. "Saying that, I'm still against it (granting the petition)."

Freese added that E. O. Olson, who originally developed the land, wouldn't want the public to lose the lake access at May Street. She noted that Olson was a conservationist who wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the waterfront.

Lastly, Freese said that if the boat access were to become private, it may create problems for her property. The summer southwest wind comes around Earhart Point at a velocity such that if a boat lift or other large contraption were installed, it would bang against the Freeses' portion of the retaining wall.

"If a private property owner has it, then we have no recourse," Freese concluded.

No other neighbors wished to address the council. Mark Shepherd, representing Bruce and Beverly Kness, did not offer a rebuttal.

Council members came to a consensus that although vacating the land would make it taxable, the slight advantage for the city does not outweigh the loss to the public that would occur if the city agreed to vacate.

The vote to deny the Knesses' petition was unanimous, with the exception of council member Larry Janssen, who was absent from the meeting.

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Also at Monday's meeting:

  • Council approved two Nobles Home Initiative requests from Dan Krueger — a single-family home at 1388 N. Crailsheim Road and a duplex at 1420 and 1426 N. Crailsheim Road.
  • A second reading passed on a proposed ordinance to rezone a section of land north of Interstate 90, east of Humiston Avenue, north of 27th Street and just west of the Prairie Justice Center from a combination of a transitional zone and a B-3 general business zone to an R-1 one-family detached zone.
  • A second reading passed on a proposed ordinance to rezone a section of Sherwood Avenue from R-4 medium family residential to R-3 low density preservation residential.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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