Council says no to trust company, again
February 25. 2014 12:12PM
Officials at City Hall aren’t budging on prior rulings that bar a financial investment firm from operating in a residential neighborhood in Dell Rapids.
In January, the Dell Rapids City Council voted down a measure that would have paved the way for Argonne Trust Company to apply for a conditional use permit to house it’s South Dakota operations at 503 east Sixth Street, the former Smith home that once was used as a church.
The proposed ordinance would have allowed conditional use permits to be issued for properties that were built for the purposes of conducting organized religious services.
Monroe Deifendorf, Jr., chief executive officer for Argonne Trust Company, asked councilors to reconsider at their meeting Tuesday, Feb. 18.
“This is where we want to go, and this is the place that we will operate and be a part of the community and be a good citizen,” said Deifendorf, who traveled to Dell Rapids from New York to make the request. “You won’t be ashamed of anything that goes on there.”
Neighborhood residents, as they did in January and summer of 2013, voiced their continued opposition to Argonne Trust Company operating within a residentially-zoned neighborhood.
Mike Park, who shares an ally with Argonne Trust Company, objected to the idea that if a structure is built as a church, it should always be classified as a church, whether or not it’s been repurposed.
“It’s not tax exempt, it’s no longer used for services, and its been renovated into a home for the last 35 years,” he said. “It’s not a church. It is a home.”
The structure, purchased by Argonne Trust Company in summer 2013 for $230,000, was built in 1905 and was home to Dell Rapids’ Episcopal Church until 1985 when Dennis Hood converted it to a home.
Hood sold the building to Katherine Moe and Jeffrey Smith in 1993. They lived there for 20 years.
Park said he’s not opposed to the company’s choice to come to Dell Rapids, just the location it chose.
“This isn’t necessarily a battle for my neighborhood. It’s a battle for everybody’s neighborhood,” he said. “It about where we’re going to allow offices in this town.”
Michael Fletcher lives next door to Park and said when he purchased his home four years ago, it was his belief that the Smith home would always be a home, not an office building.
“If I thought there was going to be an office building behind me, I probably would have found a different house,” he said. “It’s been wonderful, and as far as I know, it’s a house, and that’s how I saw it.”
Councilor David Sommerfeld was one of six aldermen to oppose the ordinance.
“To say that the reason this is a church … is because it looks like a church, I really have problems with that whole wording in the ordinance,” he said.
Councilor Chad Andrews supported the proposed ordinance and said the neighbors should be happy to have a low-traffic business as a neighbor.
“They’re going to keep the building clean, and they won’t be around on the weekends,” he said. “I can’t think of a better neighbor.”
The council voted 6-2 to deny reconsideration of the previously defeated ordinance.
Andrews and councilor Mike Geraets voted in favor of reconsideration.