On Thursday, Dec. 17, the commission voted 4-0 in support of the request.

A piece of property up for rezoning along U.S. 61 in Hannibal will go before the City Council with the endorsement of the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission. On Thursday, Dec. 17, the commission voted 4-0 in support of the request.

“This needs to go to the Council,” said Councilman Mike Dobson, who also sits on the Planning & Zoning Commission. “Ultimately that’s where this will be decided.”

The matter will go before the City Council at its Tuesday, Jan. 5, meeting. A public hearing regarding the proposed rezoning is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. that day in council chambers at City Hall.

Because a sufficient number of residents in the impacted neighborhood signed a petition opposing the rezoning, the request will require a three-quarter vote in support by the Council to be approved.

Before the rezoning discussion could begin Thursday, chairman Don Bastian excused himself, citing a conflict of interest since he is the attorney for the estate of the late Jerry Ketterer. Property that is part of the estate is in the project’s footprint and would be sold if the development moves forward. Mike Kettelkamp chaired the remainder of the meeting.

Brian Grassa of Premier Civil Engineering explained that the project planned within a triangle bordered by U.S. 61, Pleasant Street, St. Mary’s Avenue and Earl Street would consist of three buildings. Because the structures would be for commercial use much of the property in the triangle must be rezoned from District A-One & Two Family to District D-Highway.

George Walley, executive director of the Northeast Missouri Economic Development Council, praised the proposal, calling it the “most organized and professional” he has seen for the site, which he termed an “eyesore property” in its current state.

Asked about the economic impact the development would have, Walley estimated it could create 100 jobs.

“It would have a very high economic impact … a very positive impact,” he said.

The project’s potential economic impact was also on the minds of nearby homeowners.

“I’m about to close on a house,” said Bridgette Leake, whose new residence will be at Earl Street and St. Mary’s Avenue. “What will this (commercial development) do to property values?”

Terry Hull, who has lived at 3430 St. Mary’s Ave. for approximately 30 years, said he has been told by two people in real estate that his property will be devalued by from “20 to 30 percent.”

“I don’t see why I have to take a hit like that,” he said.

Grassa suggested that natural buffers such as trees and bushes will help preserve the neighborhood’s appearance.

Additional traffic congestion along St. Mary’s Avenue that the new businesses would likely generate is another major concern of residents in the area. That worry prompted a discussion over whether a traffic study in the area should occur before the property is rezoned.

“There are other ways to handle access other than from St. Mary’s,” said Grassa.

Walley said if recommendations resulting from a traffic study proved to be too restrictive the development could “evaporate.” That notion only fanned the concerns of opponents, who said if the tract was already rezoned and the planned development fell through, a less neighborhood-friendly project could wind up on the site.

Mike Wojcik, a resident of Earl Street, said he’d hate to see the neighborhood that has been “reborn,” take a step backward.

“I understand the importance of jobs and development, but I don’t want to see the neighborhood change a lot,” he said.

Grassa appealed to the Commission to not impede the process.

“There are more steps in the process,” he said. “Allow this to continue through the process.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com