Mason City council tables zoning request for day spa on State Highway 122

MASON CITY — The City Council in Mason City last night tabled a request for rezoning a property along State Highway 122 to allow a beauty salon to be placed in a residential dwelling.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended against the proposal from Trung Le, who purchased the home at 1602 4th Southwest with the thought of using it not only as a residence but for a full-service day spa and beauty salon on the first floor. The structure used to be an in-home photography studio, but with Le wanting to bring in employees who did not live at the residence, the property would need to be properly rezoned.

Several people spoke out during a public hearing against the rezoning. Tim Latham is the president of the homeowners association in that neighborhood. He says people want to see that kept as a residential neighborhood. “It’s been a residential neighborhood for I think, I was looking at the abstract tonight, I think it was 1946 or something like that this was developed. It’s a pretty nice neighborhood and I guess we’d like to keep it that way and hope that you don’t approve it tonight. I’m sorry the gentleman bought it thinking maybe it could be.”

Gary Anderson represents Le. He questions the safety of the neighborhood with homes being along that corridor and thinks it would be better to allow commercial uses such as the spa and salon.  “Are all of those driveways a safe environment, all those mailboxes? Is that the best way to have that strip of property, and not just this parcel that were talking about tonight, but a larger area of things? There’s no sidewalks on the north side of the highway, for whatever reason they were not put in with the DOT road expansion. So walkability that Mason City has taken large strides to help influence in town, there’s no walkability on that side. People have to cross the street to the south to get to a sidewalk.”

City Planning and Zoning Manager Tricia Sandahl told the council that tabling the proposal would allow Le an opportunity to have a further discussion with city staff on the request. The council dealt with a similar zoning issue at their meeting two weeks ago.  “If the council votes down the rezoning request, Mr. Le can’t ask for the same rezoning on this property for six months. A delay would offer him a chance to withdraw his application for zoning which happened in the case that you heard at the last council meeting, but I don’t know that the outcome would be the same. This is a challenging piece of property, it has a checkered history and it’s a unique location and so it’s tough.”

Councilman Tom Thoma was worried about the impacts commercial development would have on the residential part of the Willowbrook area. “I’m concerned about the environmental impact on it. It’s a beautiful lagoon and the front yards may be suitable for business along the way, but the backyards are connected to that lagoon, and I would hate to see anything happen to impact that “

The council voted 5-to-1 to table the request, with Thoma being the lone no vote.

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