An avoidable event

I am responding to your editorial and the editorial from the president of the Chamber of Commerce, regarding the dog treat processing business, published in Saturday’s Independent.

Calling a group of law abiding and hardworking people of our city, using their constitutional rights to express their views, a “very vocal minority” who “formed a mob and harassed” doesn’t describe the group I saw speaking to the Planning Commission and City Council. I didn’t observe bad behavior or threats.

I believe they spoke for the majority of people who want laws respected. Sadly, I hear members of the City Council were threatened and harassed. That bullying behavior is never alright and is always counterproductive.

The people appearing before the Planning Commission did express their concerns about such things as odors and traffic because city code requires the planning commission and city council to evaluate a conditional use permit using the City Code “Standard for Hearing a Conditional Use Permit” where those topics are listed. The codes are law, with due process, and not “legal technicalities.”

I don’t think anyone wants to live, work, or own property anyplace where there are no land use laws protecting rights to use your property and protecting property values. For many their residence and property is their only asset and they rightfully protect it.

I attended the Planning Commission hearing. I did not observe “a mob” or a “very vocal minority” that is described in your editorials. Many people spoke directly to Mr. Trachtenberg and told him they wanted him to move his business to Marshall and grow, and prosper, while respecting city laws.

The vacant former grocery store and property is classified general business by the Marshall Code of Ordinances, and is classified business on the zoning map of the Marshall Comprehensive Plan. Both documents have been amended several times to accommodate land use trends.

The building appears well built and well situated to accommodate any of the 89 permitted uses listed in city code. Many of the uses do not require high traffic locations. This property can be marketed for any or a combination of those 89 permitted uses. Please look at city code and Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary to best define the uses. The City of Marshall, its taxpayers, citizens, development groups, boards and commissions have all contributed to develop an industrial park to assist and fast track industrial development.

The president of the chamber of commerce said “Please know the facts before spreading non-factual items regarding a project.” To find out the facts we need to consult all available resources, not just the ones with the answer we are looking for. Objective reporting demands researching both sides of an issue and reporting finding of fact.

Publically denouncing the city and declaring it hard to work with, anti-business, anti-growth, or anti-jobs serves no useful purpose, nor is it productive, and I don’t believe it is so. There is a place in Marshall for almost every business and industry to locate and prosper. Blaming the citizens of Marshall for losing this prospect is wrong, isn’t a good response, and serves no useful purpose.

I suggest the Marshall Chamber of Commerce work with every prospect and every player to find a legal and suitable location for every client. Be creative and market the building for all permitted uses not just a grocery.

Mr. Trachtenberg didn’t get good advice somewhere and we wasted his time.

— Dale Howe is a resident of Marshall