Marion's growing pains throbbed on Monday night as the city council approved the development of a 100-unit apartment complex on a 12-acre parcel off South Market Street, on the precipice of city limits.
A handful of neighbors in the once-rural, increasingly residential area voiced concerns about traffic congestion, the possible rise in crime and decreased property values.
"It's not a good fit for the area," neighboring property owner Scott Cranick told the council.
Developed by Michael Baysinger, Owl's Landing is located between residential parcels on a soybean field, on Market Street Road in the area of Cochran Road, south of Timberline Resources. The property has been on the market for 12 years, it was noted. Plans are for apartments with attached garages.
Baysinger said he intends to erect a 6-foot concrete privacy fence around the complex, which seemed to placate some neighbors.
Among citizens, traffic remained the biggest worry. No. 1 on the list was that hairy, blind S-curve at South Market and Cochran Road, as well as the "racetrack" speed and frequency of vehicles at peak times, from early morning to the evening rush hour.
Council members acknowledged citizens' concerns, noting that more needs to be done to alleviate congestion on an already busy stretch of road.
"The traffic issues are real," said Mayor Mike Absher.
Nonetheless, Marion's march to the south will keep on.
"Marion is land poor when it comes to new development land," Absher said, noting that South Market is Marion's fastest-growing new residential area. "Whether this development goes in or not, there's still going to be traffic."
The council, with Absher and commissioners John M. Barwick Jr., Doug Patton, Jim Webb and John Stoecklin, voted 5-0 to approve the zoning commission's recommendation to accept Baysinger's planned unit development.
But it was with the condition that the city monitor traffic conditions, and work with the county highway department to improve safety along South Market Street Road.
"We have to understand what kind of impact this is going to have on our streets and roads," said Commissioner Doug Patton.
Anticipating the approval of the new development, the council also voted 5-0 to approve an engineering agreement with Homer Shifrin for phase two of the South Market Street Road sewer extension.
Brian Ziegler of Clarida and Ziegler Engineering said the agreement would allow for plans covering an area south to Cochran Road, and allow the city to seek bids on future projects beyond the new apartment project.