QUINCY -- After months of debate, 2032 and 2034 Broadway will be rezoned to allow for a developer to build a two-store strip mall on the previously zoned residential properties.
The Quincy City Council voted 8-6 in favor of the proposal that has sparked plenty of testimony from Quincy residents, who spoke in favor and against the proposal. Speaking in favor of the zoning change were: Virgil Goehl, D-1; Eric Entrup, R-1; Jeff Bergman, R-2; Jason Finney, R-3; Katie Awerkamp, D-6; Benjamin Uzelac, D-7; Jack Holtschlag, D-7; and Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore. Voting against the zoning change were: David Bauer, D-2; Tom Ernst, R-3; Michael Farha, R-4; Anthony Sassen, R-4; Mike Rein, R-5; and Richie Reis, D-6.
Developer J. Michael Haubrich first filed the request with the city after purchasing the two lots several years ago. At the time of the purchase, there were two houses on the properties. Haubrich said he had to demolish the homes because they were "unfit to live in" despite one of the homes being inhabited.
Following the demolition, Haubrich approached the city in 2017 about having the properties rezoned to allow for a Smoothie King and another restaurant on the properties. That plan was rejected in 2017 by the Quincy Plan Commission.
Haubrich revised his plans and resubmitted his request for a zoning change so that he could build a three-store strip mall on the property. This plan was later altered to the two-store strip mall plan. Haubrich said the planned occupants of the strip mall would be a sandwich shop and a Greek and Mediterranean bistro.
Following the vote by the Quincy City Council, Farha classified the decision as a "knee jerk reaction."
"(Haubrich) has come multiple times, and he came often enough that I think the Quincy Plan Commission, seven aldermen and the mayor decided that they were sick of hearing about it and made this knee jerk reaction," Farha said.
Farha, who has been critical of Haubrich for not having definite plans for the properties, said he believes Monday's decision creates a slippery slope that would allow developers to buy residential properties, demolish the homes and then request that the city rezone the properties.
"You have to worry about the precedent, and that is what was made tonight," Farha said.
Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore disagreed.
"People take a risk when they buy residential properties and want to make them commercial properties," said Moore, who described the plan studies as "guidelines" rather than rules for the city council.
Multiple city residents spoke prior to the vote about the developer's and the city's plans for the property. Those speaking in favor of the proposal zoning change said it would create jobs and would achieve one of the goals of the strategic plan, which called for investments in growing city's tourism and hospitality economy. Those speaking against the proposal pointed to the Broadway Corridor Study and the Quincy Comprehensive Plan, which both call for the city to keep portions of Broadway residentially zoned.
Farha said those referencing the Quincy Next Strategic Plan are inaccurately citing the document.
"Quincy Next was not about changing the zoning regulations," Farha said. "To say otherwise is absurd."
In other business, the Quincy City Council unanimously agreed to rescind the resignation of Goehl.
Last week, Goehl, 90, tendered his resignation and said he planned to serve until the end of the month. On Thursday, he said he planned to keep his seat following a dispute with Mayor Moore about who should be appointed to the seat.
Following the Quincy City Council meeting, Goehl and Moore had a closed door meeting to discuss the appointment. Leaving the meeting, Goehl said he intended to continue to serve until the mayor relented and agreed with the candidate that the Adams County Central Committee of the Democratic Party is reportedly backing.
Goehl said he would likely continue to serve for some time as he and the mayor were "not on even the same page."
"We will see what happens," Goehl said. "It will get pretty nasty before it is all over, and it is not all over."
The council also tabled for two weeks the appointment of Mark Freiburg to the vacant 5th Ward aldermanic position.
Moore said an ordinance is being drafted that would allow Freiburg to serve as city ordinances prohibit an alderman from owning more than 5% of a company that has a liquor license. Freiburg reportedly owns a larger percentage of a Quincy business that has a liquor license.
Freiburg, a Republican, would be replacing Terry Traeder, who stepped down from the position following the April municipal election due to health concerns.