MENOMINEE — The Menominee Planning Commission held two public hearings during its meeting Tuesday regarding rezoning two areas on 10th Street for L.E. Jones Company. One of the areas in question is 3229 10th St., right next to where L.E. Jones currently sits. The other is the former location of North Honda Motorsports, which was recently purchased by David Doll, owner of L.E. Jones.

The first area at 3229 10th St. is currently in use by the company, according to commission member Pete Mayhew, however it’s currently zoned under C-1 general commercial use, and the company would like to have it rezoned under M-1 industrial use. As for the old Honda shop, L.E. Jones wanted to have that area rezoned under D-1 development district from its current zoning as a part of C-2 waterfront and central business district.

Ultimately, the commission opted to table any action on rezoning these areas, pending a recommendation from an attorney, current city staff and Smithgroup, the company currently helping the city put its master plan together.

“I don’t think we’ve changed zoning since I’ve been on the Planning Commission,’ Mayhew said, “We’ve approved special use permits, but a change in zoning is huge because you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I’m not saying I’m afraid of what’s going to happen, I’m just saying I don’t know, and a change in zoning goes against the master plan we’ve been working on.”

Cookie Kramer, another member of the commission, asked, “Do you have any idea how many people have looked to buy that property in the last 20 years?” Doll said in response that he had bought the property at 3229 10th St. seven years ago.

“So you own it, so someone’s not going to buy it unless you put it up for sale, or come to you and say ‘I’ll give you $20 million for it?,’” Kramer said.

“If the commission approves a change to the zoning,” said commission member Jim Zobel, “it’s changed; we can add no conditions is my understanding. If the decision was made by the Zoning Board, we can add conditions.”

“M-1 isn’t planned in that area,” said commission member Jim Weiland, “the master plan revision is to get away from industrial on the 41 corridor. Now we’re looking to change the property to M-1 manufacturing, so it goes against what we’re looking to change in that area. A special use permit would isolate the property in particular and not necessarily change the master plan.”

Mayhew said it would also allow the commission to put conditions on the use of the property.

A few residents in the vicinity of the old Honda building raised concerns about the proposed uses of the building as lab space, saying that there wasn’t any information about what chemicals were to be used and how the exhaust from those chemicals would be handled. Joe Jones of Jones Law PLC, the attorney for L.E. Jones, said the petition for the rezoning of the old Honda building is just a first step, and those specific concerns would be addressed later on in the process.

“Regarding actual uses, this is the first step, and we’d be coming back for a special use permit, which I believe would address most of those concerns. This is specifically related to the uses that are permitted, and then as far as the special use, that would be a point where we could certainly address those concerns,” Jones said.

“Under the uses of the current zoning, we can’t do a special use permit (for the old Honda shop),” he said, “If we allow the warehousing as a special use of C-2 waterfront, the discussion would roll into, ‘Where are the other C-2 zoned properties and would warehousing be a good idea there too?’”

“But D-1 would work, and D-1 is a category that Smithgroup plans on getting rid of,” Mayhew said.

Jones said, “The point that I would have to make is that yes, they say D-1 should be eliminated, but they also say that we need to revise the language of the other ordinances to accommodate those mixed uses. We can only provide a petition based on the zoning that’s here.”