Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
WASHINGTON — Plans to complete a business park along Buchanan Street have struck a nerve of some farmers in the area.
The Murphy family, which owns a farm in the area, said the city was failing to honor past agreements.
“Years ago, the city promised us if it ever wasn’t used, it would come back into our ground,” Sara Murphy said. “I’ve got the agreement from way back when, but I think the city ought to honor their promise to us that they would give Buchanan Street back to the land. It doesn’t amount to that much, but it’s just the idea that it will help our tenant to access the fields.”
City Administrator Brent Hinson said the legal agreement, written in the 1920s and renewed in 1957, had expired.
“That issue has been reviewed with the city attorney, and the city plans to retain that property, the covenant’s long since expired,” he said.
Mike Murphy, who has spoken against the business park plan at several municipal meetings, voiced additional complaints about the placement of the buildings near a cemetery, the park’s effect on water flow and traffic control measures planned along Buchanan Street.
Hinson said plans to settle disputes with the Murphy family had failed, but that the project must go on.
“We have tried to make some adjustments” Hinson said. “We’ve had a little bit of inability to come to an equitable and mutually agreeable solution. We’re not going to stop trying, but we’re also not going to sacrifice the city’s best interests for a bunch of unresolvable and unreasonable demands.”
Commission Chair Deran DeLong agreed.
“My opinion is I think it’s a good thing for the city,” he said. “I guess I’m a little concerned about the disagreement, I don’t know much about that. I guess that’s not something we can issue.”
The Planning and Zoning Commission declined to act on the complaints, voting to recommend the rezoning and final plat proposal to the City Council. Commission member Darrell Steele was the sole vote against both measures.
“There’s an awful lot of new stuff brought up that I wasn’t aware of,” Steele said. “Maybe that’s my fault, I didn’t get to the right meeting or whatever. But I guess there’s too many questions for me to support this thing.”
The commission also declined a request from the Murphy family to recommend a change of plans to the City Council. Vice Chair Merle Hagie said it wasn’t the group’s domain.
“I don’t think it’s our place to,” he said. “We’re not dealing with that, we’re dealing with rezoning. That’s totally out of the concept. That’s between you, the administrator and the city council. I get what you’re saying, but that’s not germane to us.”