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The Warrenton City Commission held a public hearing on Tuesday night (April 25) to provide the opportunity for citizens of Warrenton to comment on the appointment of a new Mayor. The final decision is to be made by the commissioners but since Mark Kujala, who had stepped down for personal reasons at the end of March, was the first Mayor to be elected by the people the commissioners thought it would be important to afford citizens the opportunity to be involved.

 Mayor Pro Tem Henry Balensifer and Commissioner Rick Newton have both expressed interest in serving out the term. Both men say they would run for an additional term if selected to fill the job. The appointment by the commission of a new Mayor will leave a spot open on the board for a new commissioner.  That position will also be made by appointment and those Warrenton residents interested in filling that role should provide a resume and letter of interest to city hall.

In other commission action:

It’s going to cost a little more for Warrenton’s SE Ensign pump station rebuild and Force Main Construction project.   In order to excavate to the proper depth Big River Construction had to have dewatering pumps on the job but in a letter to the project management firm, Otak Inc, Big River’s Ryan Lampi says the dewatering system called for in the plan just couldn’t keep up with the sheer volume of water the result of the project being close to the Skipanon River along with tidal influences all combined with record rainfall. Otak agrees that the conditions were not anticipated in the contract and outside the control of the contractor and required something bigger to allow crews to dig down to the elevation required.  The Warrenton Commission agreed and approved an increase in a change order in the amount of $67, 306.35 to pay for additional deep well dewatering. This is the second change order authorized by the commission for the project and puts the total cost at $1,365,312.30. Even with this increase the project remains under budget and below the next lowest bid for the project

Warrenton Community Development Director Skip Urling sees the potential for some multifamily housing in C-1 General Commercial Zones in his city.  The majority of the Warrenton Commission Tuesday agreed and approved a change in city zoning to allow multifamily development in C-1 commercial zones as a conditional use.  That means any proposal to build such developments would be subject to review by the city and would likely have to meet specific conditions of approval to be permitted. The change takes effect in 30 days. Mayor Pro Tem Balensifer voted against the change saying he would prefer that one area identified in the city development plan for commercial development remain off limits to residential projects.

The former Serendipity Cafe on Main St. is about to be re-purposed to become the temporary home for the Warrenton Library. The building located at 160 Main was a bank many years ago and still has a vault in place. To help pay for the relocation, rent and, utilities through the end of this fiscal year and reserve enough funding to see the library through the first four months of the next fiscal year the city commission agreed with staff to transfer dollars from the general fund that was going to pay for new carpeting for city hall. The Warrenton School District owns the property and the rent will be $2085 per month.

Mayor Pro Tem Henry Balensifer swore in a new member of the Warrenton Police Tuesday night. The department recently hired Joshua Hollaway as a full-time officer. Joshua grew up in Warrenton and Police Department Chief Mathew Workman said his background check result was the best he had ever seen.

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