Commissioners vote to rezone golf course

Sharna Johnson

In a 6-1 vote, Clovis Commissioners rezoned the Colonial Park Golf Course during a meeting Thursday night.

The ordinance to rezone the area from a single family district zone to a mixed development zone came recommended by the city’s planning and zoning committee, which held a public hearing July 13.

Planning and Zoning Director Luis Gordon told commissioners almost 400 notices were sent to residents in the area surrounding the golf course, and the proposal met with a little more than 1 percent opposition.

City officials have said the golf course — which the city now owns after closing on the property earlier Thursday — needed to be rezoned to allow for a governmental liquor license for the course.

Mayor Gayla Brumfield told attendees at the meeting that while they were welcome to make comments on the ordinance, the public hearing had already been held and comments Thursday would not be included in that record.

The issue met with no comment from the public, with the exception of Colonial Park resident Carolyn Spence, who told commissioners the July 13 hearing, held at city hall, was crowded and people were standing in the hall.

“I think when we have that much interest (in an issue) it needs to be in another venue,” she said.

Commissioner Len Vohs was absent.

Commissioner Randy Crowder, who gave the dissenting vote, thanked Spence for a recent letter to commissioners in which she proposed alternative options to improve the downtown area without an affordable housing plan, an issue that is highly debated and has prompted an August 2 special election.

The commission also unanimously approved an agreement between the city, the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation and Cummins Natural Gas Engines.

Under the agreement, the CIDC, a nonprofit entity geared toward economic development in industry, will contribute $200,000 of its own money and borrow $525,000 from the city’s Economic Development Tax Fund to purchase a building currently occupied by Cummins.

CIDC will then lease the building to Cummins and repay the loan with the lease money.

Ken Carruthers with CIDC, said his group has been working with Cummins for about three years since the company fell on hard times and wants to help keep the company local.

Cummins has 45 high-paid employees and could add 27 new jobs in the near future, CIDC officials said.

When the property owner of Cummins’ building offered CIDC a deal well below the $1 million appraisal value for the building, he said it was an opportunity to help Cummins stay local and expand its operations in the future.

“We want to ensure that the company can expand,” Carruthers said.

Brumfield lauded the arrangement as an example of partnership between public and private entities.

“They’re (CIDC) not looking for a profit. It’s private, and it stays on the tax rolls,” she said. “That’s where it is — it works beautifully.”

Crowder, who has been vocal in his opposition of private endeavors using taxpayer money, said even he was swayed by the presentation given by CIDC.

“I’m in complete agreement that every effort needs to be made to keep Cummins in this community,” he said.

The commission also approved an arrangement between CIDC and Quality Liquid Feed of Wisconsin. The company will occupy an 18-acre lot in the Clovis Industrial Park valued at $350,000 and will receive a $150,000 tax credit for guaranteeing 10 jobs for a period of 10 years.

Additionally, the commission approved a $30,000 credit to Pathway House, which is expanding its operations in Clovis and is guaranteeing six jobs for five years.

In other business, commissioners:

• Heard from resident Gloria Wicker, who said she is concerned the city has decided to close the municipal golf course and plans to turn the facility into a park with sports fields and a splash park.

Wicker said the course is beautiful and should be preserved and she fears the city will remove mature trees and pour concrete in natural areas.

“I don’t think soccer fields are pretty. It’s just two goals and some grass,” Wicker said.

Brumfield assured her the city plans will not impact the aesthetics of the golf course and that natural areas will be preserved.

Brumfield invited Wicker to spend the day with herself and parks director Bill Bizzell so they can show her the plans.

“It’s going to be a beautiful area, you will love it,” she said.

• Passed the city’s $42.22 million 2011-2012 budget. Crowder expressed concern about increases in the budgets for workman’s compensation which reflected jumps of more than 50 percent for the police and fire departments, totaling more than $389,000.

City Finance Director Don Clifton said the increases were required because the city was directed to increase its reserves in the budget. He said he would gather information about it and provide it to Crowder for review.

Crowder voted against the budget.

• Appointed Clovis resident Don David to serve on the city’s planning and zoning committee. David said he has no special interests, but “I want to see Clovis continue to grow and expand.”