Social Distancing at Meeting

Each Union Planning and Zoning commissioner got his own table, while others participated remotely at a March 23 meeting.

Union’s Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting had a different feel from the moment you entered City Hall on Monday, March 23.

With the building closed to the public during the day, a sign told meeting attendees to knock on the glass door at the front entrance, so someone could let you in.

Instead of going downstairs to the regular meeting room, people walked across the lobby to the auditorium.

To keep people spaced apart, seven tables went across the gym floor in an arching pattern, with one chair at each table. Only three of the tables had people siting at them, one occupied by planning and zoning commission Chairman Greg Bailey one with board of aldermen liaison Bill Isgriggs and one with new commission member John Wagner.

Two other commissioners, Richard Purschke and Cynthia Reckart, took part via conference call, as did City Administrator Russell Rost.

Two similar tables faced the commissioners, one occupied by Mayor Rod Tappe, the other by City Clerk Jonita Copeland.

A couple other city officials sat to the side of the gym, but others had to wait to be called in the lobby, to make sure the meeting didn’t have more than 10 people in attendance at a time.

The meeting, which lasted about 20 minutes, was the city’s first try in dealing with new regulations caused by the COVID-19, the coronavirus. Rost previously said some commission members would take part remotely because they are in an age-group more likely to have serious symptoms caused by the virus.

Antennae/Radio Tower

The commission moved forward an application for a conditional permit for Keith Johnson to continue to maintain an 80-foot-tall antennae and radio tower at Storage Depot, located at 2070 Old Highway 50 East.

Johnson took part in the meeting via Zoom video conference. Officials had to call into the hallway to make sure no one else was on site to discuss the matter.

The unanimous vote had to be taken by roll call to avoid confusion.

Residence in Business

The second item approved was a conditional permit for Katie Lin to have a residence on the second floor of a salon and spa she is opening at 304 Hawthorne Dr. The property’s current zoning does not allow for living quarters in a business.

Lin’s representatives said she would prefer a permanent zoning change so they did not have to get another conditional use permit in the future, but the conditional use was acceptable.

“I think there’s a way to make a happy medium,” said real estate agent Derek Schriewer, speaking from the middle of the large arch of commissioners.

The city considered a similar request several years ago, but the applicant withdrew, City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann told commissioners.

Commissioners decided to allow the permit conditionally.

“I would prefer to keep it conditional use, just in case someone wants to change it, we can keep some control of it,” Bailey said.

The moves must still be approved by the board of aldermen. And, with hair salons among the businesses Franklin County closed this week, Lin’s business will not be able to open until at least April 17.