St. Boni trying to help Main Street homeowners

By Emily Hedges

During the Aug. 1 regular meeting, the St. Boni City Council discussed ways to help owners of homes that sit within the city’s B1 district along Hwy. 92 not get caught between a rock and hard place.

City ordinance and state statute says that any property that is vacant for a year automatically changes to the new zoning designation.

This has caused problems for St. Boni residents in the past, and the council wants to try to get creative with a solution.

"It just makes sense to allow people to resell their property," said Mayor Rick Weible. "If you look at the past 30-40 years, the intent of these ordinances hasn’t really happened."

Weible explained that the intent of the law was to create a commercial district within a city. He pointed out that when a property is rendered uninhabitable because it has changed to B1 zoning, it handcuffs the property owner’s ability to sell the property, while at the same time raising their taxes to the commercial rate.

When the owner of the house just north of the Holiday station at Hwy. 7 and Co. Rd. 92 went into a nursing home, after a year her property automatically converted to B1. Her family was unable to later occupy the premises. Weible hopes to prevent a story like this in the future.

"Over the next few years, there are a few that could fall into the same situation," said Weible.

Council member Terrill Anderson was less sympathetic.

"She has never attempted to sell the property as commercial," he said "Holiday wanted it, and she elected not to sell it."

Weible defended the owner’s right to do what she wanted to with her own property. The council plans to discuss all their options with City Attorney Larry Harris.

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