The Washington City Council Monday shot down a proposed resolution that would begin the process to rename Duncan Avenue to East 14th Street.
Councilman Mark Hidritch said the request for the name change comes from residents in Ward 2 who were dismayed following a the rezoning of property along the road.
“They brought it up to me because it put a bad taste in their mouth,” said Hidritch. “I’m just trying to be their voice. I am not saying I am 100 percent for it or 100 percent against it.”
The property was rezoned from R-1A, single-family residential, to C-4, planned commercial in 2016.
The resolution was voted down with a 5-2 vote. Hidritch and Jeff Mohesky, also in Ward 2, voted in favor of beginning the process that would elicit public input in the name change. Councilman Greg Skornia was not at Monday’s meeting.
Duncan Avenue begins east of Highway 47 across from where East 14th Street ends. Duncan Avenue then continues to the east to Madison Avenue. There are no driveways located on Duncan Avenue.
The street is in front of Mercy South Doctors Building. The private drive for the building is Patients First Drive, the former name of the owners of the building.
Mohesky told the council he approached City Planner Sal Maniaci earlier this year about the proposed name change.
When asked by Councilwoman Susan Watermann why he presented the name change to the council, Hidritch stated he is acting on behalf of some Ward 2 residents.
“I don’t feel like enough of us are a voice for our people,” he commented. “I’m just trying to bring it forward.”
Mohesky noted that he requested the city look into the name change to provide better emergency service to the area. He added he was told that the name change would not benefit emergency services, so he dropped the request
“If I felt strongly that (it would provide better emergency service) I would have proceeded with Sal more than I did,” Mohesky said.
Councilman Jeff Patke added he would not be in favor of a name change if the only reason was due to a request by some neighbors.
“I am looking for a better ‘why’ than a few neighbors say they want to change it,” he said.
Councilman Joe Holtmeier said the approval of the name change could set an unwanted precedent prompting similar street name change requests.
Last month, Maniaci said the rezoning of a 4-acre site east of Highway 47 and south of the Mercy South medical building on Duncan Avenue prompted calls from neighboring property owners who said they will collect names on a petition.
Not All Resident
Some area residents who live near Duncan Avenue do not want the street name to be changed to 14th Street.
One of the couples who live near Duncan Avenue emailed the mayor and council and requested that the name of the street not be changed. Dennis and Marilyn Whitworth, in their letter to the city, said they are “upset that people think this neighborhood is responsible for wanting to change the name.”
“We have not seen a petition to change the name, nor would we sign it if we did! Please keep in mind all that Mr. Duncan Sr., and his sons and daughters have done for this community, and retain the Duncan Avenue name,” the Whitworths said in their letter to the city.
The senior Mr. Duncan and his sons after World War II founded the Zero Manufacturing Co., which provided many jobs for people in the Washington area. Zero was sold later to Clemco Industries, which operates in a new plant on Bluff Road.
If the resolution had been approved, the proposed name change would be required to be posted as a legal notice in The Missourian.
According to City Counselor Mark Piontek, if the majority of adjacent landowners protested the name change, the proposal would die.
Mohesky noted that he would not vote for a resolution unless the “emergency” clauses were struck. He added that it is misleading to state that the change is for emergency purposes.
“I won’t do it with the emergency issue because it is not true,” Mohesky said.
The development plan for a commercial tract of land has been a contentious issue with neighboring homeowners for nearly two years.
In November 2016, the council approved the plan which calls for a 32,300-square-foot commercial building on the site.
Last year, the Duncan family filed a lawsuit after the city council rejected an earlier request to rezone the property for commercial use.
The suit alleged the council’s decision to deny the rezoning in 2015 was “arbitrary and capricious.”
Piontek has said that suit became a “moot” issue once the C-4 zoning was approved.
Opposition to the rezoning was spurred by neighboring homeowners who stated their property values would decline.