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Lamar Council Approves Zoning Ordinance for East Maple Street Corrections Facility

WPA Building

WPA Building

An ordinance to amend zoning at 800 East Maple Street in Lamar was approved by the Lamar City Council on first reading during their meeting, Monday, April 25th. The ordinance will amend the zoning on the 3.55 acres from R-3 to I-1.  The site developer, Doug Carrigan, plans to re-purpose the property into a community corrections facility which will accommodate from 20-25 resident clients and about a dozen employees.  The city’s planning and zoning commission approved the zoning request change at an earlier meeting.  Carrigan is purchasing the property from the county and estimates that his operation could be functioning in a year.  He stated that it will operate under guidelines established by the State Department of Criminal Justice.

Although there were no objections presented during the first two planning and zoning meetings, two local Lamar residents, Virginia Inman and Donna Eaton, both East Maple Street residents, raised objections to the proposed change during the open comments portion of the council’s meeting agenda, citing they were never formerly informed about the meetings. Eaton, whose family owns and operates Eaton Veterinary Clinic on East Maple Street, believed the corrections facility would not be a good fit for the area.  “I don’t know if our clientele would be comfortable with the building there.  We carry drugs in our business which could be inviting,” she stated.  Inman stated she had lived on the street all her life and felt the facility would be detrimental and lower property values.  Both ladies expressed concern about the type of people who would be living there and if there was another site in town more suitable for the facility such as the former Troy Apartments Motel just south of the County Annex along Main Street.  Mayor Roger Stagner informed them both planning and zoning meetings had been advertised in the local newspapers and a sign regarding the zoning change meetings had been displayed at the site.  The Prowers Journal carried two articles this past March describing the proposed operation that Carrigan submitted to the planning and zoning committee.

Doug Carrigan, the facility developer, said he would answer questions following the council meeting about his proposal for the site and the corrections facility.   He reiterated his plans for the operation and the manner in which the clients, mostly local residents, would be monitored in a structured environment during their length of stay, usually about two years.  He stated that he attended both zoning meetings to answer any questions from the public.  He informed Eaton and Inman, “I don’t know if either of you are aware, but I have taken trips to your property.  One of you wasn’t home and I did speak to Mr. Eaton.  He wasn’t high on talking to me and I understand that.  I want to be open and available and good neighbors,” he explained, adding that he didn’t feel it would become the type of environment that was being imagined.  Carrigan added that the Lamar facility would hire about 12 employees, compared to the 26 working at his Sterling, Colorado facility, “I don’t think we’ll grow into that sized operation,” he stated.  The council approved the first reading of the ordinance on a unanimous vote.

By Russ Baldwin

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