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Highland Denies Special Use Permit For Second Time This Year

By Stephanie Malench

The Highland City Council  met on September 7 because of the Labor Day holiday. For the second time this year, the council followed the recommendation of the Zoning Board and rejected a separate statement of finding of fact that would have allowed  Miles Maggio to apply for a special use permit on behalf of Marge Donnelly for short term rentals under the name of Kingdom Stays at 1320 Zschokke Street.

The Combined Planning and Zoning board last denied the application on August 4.

Since the first application, the short term rentals have increased from just the second floor to the whole house.

To ensure that the city council did not overrule the Zoning board, over two dozen residents, including a handful of the youngest children in the neighborhood made their presence known in the council chambers, a half dozen of which went to the podium to speak against the permit.

The common theme in all six public comments and a letter submitted to the council was that residents do not approve of having countless strangers driving up and down the alley behind the property not knowing that children are present and constantly crossing the alley to go to their friends’ houses.

According to the application, Maggio expects up to 30 people at a time to be renting the rooms. Residents claim Maggio continually misrepresented himself  in his application, saying that the special use permit will have a minimal negative impact on public utilities and traffic on nearby streets while protecting the public health, safety and welfare, and the physical environment.

The first ordinance passed for the evening brought the city code of ordinances in line with the updated rules in the state open meeting act to allow for city council meetings to be attended by phone and public comments be emailed in by 4:30 p.m. on the day of the meeting.

The Highland Chamber of Commerce requested and was granted $1,000 to promote the Street Art Festival on the Square on September 18 (rain date September 19).

An ordinance was passed increasing the fees for the Highland Cemetery set by the Cemetery Board of Managers. The last time fees were increased was 2018. A new fee of $350 for a perpetual care fund was established.

With the new contract with solid waste removal approved with Robert “Bob” Sanders Waste Removal for the next year, a rate increase of $5 for residential, commercial non-containerized and temporary dumpsters and a tonnage rate increase to $67.50/ton. This is the first rate increase for City of Highland customers since 2015.

A resolution was passed authorizing the city to participate in the new, temporary Low-Income Households Water and Wastewater Assistance program with the Madison County Community Development Department. The program is similar to the energy assistance program and will be used to help residents with past due water and wastewater utility bills.

An economic development agreement was approved between Highland City Manager Chris Conrad and SBFG, LLC for help with building a new office building at 5 Apex Drive in Highland. The project is expected to cost approximately $450,000 and up to 50% of the City’s portion of property taxes are eligible for reimbursement from the incremental EAV for up to 10 years, not to exceed 20% of the developer’s costs for the project.

A change order for the new Public Safety Building was approved totaling $19,462. The changes include additional steel to raise the roof to accommodate the equipment and wires, grout for moving the brick veneer up and grounding for the electronics in the rack room to prevent lightning strikes.

An ordinance was approved to rezone 717 5th Street from Central Business District to Industrial was approved. The property has been an automotive service shop for over 20 years before the zoning ordinances took effect. The new property own plans to move his Dent Specialist Inc business to the location and ad a 24 hour car wash with auto pay and detail services.

The last piece of business approved was approving a bid to Stutz Excavating for $162,290 for construction of the Broadway and Zschokke Street parking lot.

On October 9 Highland High School will hold its homecoming outside on the square from 7-11 p.m. The new LED Christmas lights will be wrapped around the trunks of the trees and on the bandstand to provide extra lighting.

Highland Middle School will be holding a band concert on October 12 at 7 p.m. in the band shed for an audience on the square.

The Highland Moose Lodge will be holding their chili cook-off and car show at the Fairgrounds main pavilion on October 17.

Highland Lion’s Club will be having its Merry Mile race on November 26 starting from the Highland Middle School and ending at the Highland Square. The one mile race will take place right before the Christmas Lighted Parade.

The next meeting will be held September 20 at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

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