By Mellow DeTray

Here’s our recap of the Des Moines City Council meeting held on Thursday night, Sept. 7, 2023:

Public Comments: Safety Issues at the Marina

Residents of the marina district brought concerns about noisy nocturnal activities, in parking lots that still don’t have operational gates. Police have been called, but noise is a low priority situation. One person also asked that the Quarterdeck tone down their live music.

In addition to the usual nighttime noise issues, however, residents around the marina recently experienced five gun shots. One of those bullets went into a woman’s apartment, grazing her hair, and lodged itself into a lamp. The woman, who spoke during public comments, was able to laugh about the disarming incident.

Proclamations: Childhood Cancer Awareness & Emergency Preparedness

Childhood cancer is the leading disease-related cause of death in children, with nearly 2,000 dying each year nationwide. The 5-year survival rate has reached 80%, but those that do survive will likely face at least one chronic health condition later in life. Causes and treatments of childhood cancers are quite different from those in adults, and more research & awareness is needed.

National Preparedness Month has occurred annually since the attacks of 9/11/2001, and is an opportunity for everyone to prepare for both natural disasters and acts of terror. Survival improves when people are more prepared, and the return to normalcy is faster. The city encourages all residents to prepare by assembling a disaster supply kit and creating a family emergency plan.

Development Moratorium to End

For nearly a year, council has enacted a temporary moratorium on development of 73 acres south of 216th Street. That moratorium is set to expire next month, and council voted tonight on a change to the zoning that they are hoping will shift the course of development. Residents in that area had complained of an increase in trucks from the warehouse and distribution centers that had been filling the business district before the moratorium. These types of businesses had also generated fewer jobs than expected by city planners.

City staff have spent the year researching optimal development for the area, and what they can do to encourage it. The city is hoping to create an “innovation district”, with plenty of jobs, multi-family homes, and walkability. Two large areas, currently zoned “Business Park”, will become “Residential Multifamily”. The city hopes to partner with organizations like Habitat for Humanity to promote owner-occupied dwellings.

There will be a second vote on this at a future meeting, when some of the details will be ironed out – such as exactly how much density will be allowed. Council passed this in a 5:1 vote, with Councilmember CM Harris against it because, he said, it’s inappropriate to pass this to a second reading with so little information to go on. Once this passes a second vote, current property owners won’t be affected by the zoning changes, but when a property is sold the new changes will be in effect.

Bartell Drugs Closure

Mayor Matt Mahoney ended the meeting by mentioning that Bartell Drugs on 216th Street will be shuttering permanently soon. He said the chain was bought out by Rite Aid, which has closed several Bartell’s locations this year. Mayor Mahoney said the city has done as much as possible to support businesses through the pandemic, and we have been lucky to have so few significant business closures. He reminded everyone to eat and shop locally, to keep as many dollars as possible in town.