Large crowds in Ames are generally expected at athletic events — but tonight they’re making game-day type preparations for the city council meeting. City spokesperson Clare Bills says all the attention is focused on the council vote tonight on a proposed change to their zoning map for an area east of the city that could be the site of a new mall. She says if the zoning change is approved, the Wolford Group has proposed a regional mall in the area. She says the zoning change would let the company ask the city to annex the area so they can move ahead with the other actions needed to build the mall. The new mall has split Ames between those who think it’s a step into the future, and those who think it’s not needed and will hurt current businesses in the college town. Bills says they’re preparing for several hundred people to show up.She says they’ll beam the meeting into the city’s auditorium, which is being used as an overflow area. Bills says all speakers will be limited to three minutes to state their case. The mayor has also issued some other rules. She says he’s not allowing an signage inside city hall or the council chambers.And says there’ll be no cheering or clapping, or booing, as she says they want people to act in a civil manner. Emotions have run high in the debate, and Bills says they’ve taken steps to be sure things don’t get out of hand. She says they’re not sure what to expect, but she says “we’ve seen a lot of angry language and so forth, and we do plan to have police officers there, both in uniform and in plain clothes.” The meeting gets underway tonight at six o’clock in the council chambers.
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