The Marion City Council will have two public hearings Thursday concerning an amendment to the alcohol ordinance in the Uptown Marion district and a proposed ordinance to allow urban chickens within city limits.
The hearings will start 7 p.m. in the council chambers of Marion City Hall, 1225 Sixth Ave.
The amendment to the alcohol ordinance would allow establishments such as bars and restaurants that serve alcohol to be less than 200 feet from a church or religious institution in the Uptown district. According to the current code, those businesses are now required to have 200 feet between them and a church, unless the sale of alcohol makes up more than 50 percent of the annual gross revenue.
Tom Treharne, Marion's planning and development director, said the proposed amendment maintains the current 200 foot separation between businesses serving alcohol and schools in the Uptown district. Vernon Middle School is the only school in the district, but there are five churches.
Treharne said Jeff Robison, owner of Another Road Brewing, 1175 Eighth Ave., asked the city to consider the zoning change because he wants to expand the brewery business by adding a 30-seat tap room, which would serve patrons on site.
Robison said he brought his adult children back to the area to run the tap room, so he was hopeful the amendment would pass. He sent letters out to the area churches to alleviate any fears and asked them to contact him if they had any concerns.
He said he hadn't heard back from them and intends to be a "good neighbor."
Robison leased the space in October 2012. He plans to open the tap room in March, if the council approves the zoning change.
Treharne said he hasn't heard much opposition to the zoning amendment but admitted there was some disagreement in 2011 when the council made the 50 percent exception to the amendment when Ramsey's Metro Market, 1120 Seventh Ave., opened its wine bar.
The council also will ask for public input on the proposed ordinance to allow residents to have urban chickens, also would include ducks. If approved, residents could have up to six hens on their property.
The ordinance is similar to one in Cedar Rapids, which passed in 2010. Iowa City approved an ordinance in December 2012.
Other requirements include: chickens must be kept in an enclosure or fenced area; the fowls must be in secure hen houses or chicken tractors at night; enclosures must be clean, dry and odor-free;, and houses or tractors must be ventilated and provide adequate shade.
Treharne said there hasn't been any opposition to this ordinance. He said he only has received phone calls and letters of support.