December 20, 2014

Car lot owner makes final plea at meeting

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
Tyrone Jones has six months to sell off inventory and close up shop at 18865 S. Gardner Road.
City council members reached a consensus on the matter during a city council meeting last Monday, but the used car lot owner appeared a final time before the planning commission the following Tuesday.
With Fox 4 News in tow, Jones asked to speak to commissioners, in part, to learn what his next steps were. Before city council members made a decision about his used car lot, Jones left the meeting. He was not informed of their decision prior to the planning commission meeting the next night.
City attorney Ryan Denk briefed commissioners on the ongoing used car lot saga, saying the city could not legally allow Jones to have a temporary special use permit. The permit would have allowed Jones to continue operating a used car lot in its current location for up to two years.
Jones requested permission to address the commission, but began speaking at the lectern before they could deny his request.
During the heated exchange, Jones was told he needed to withdraw a request for a special use permit in order to receive a refund in fees he paid for the commission and council to consider the request.
City staff issued a permit to allow the sale of used cars at 18865 S. Gardner Road in September 2012. At the time, officials told Jones that renewing the six-month permit would be a simple formality. It turned out to be anything but.
In March of this year, Jones received a letter saying the permit was issued in error and he would have 90 days to cease and desist from selling cars. By code, used cars can only be sold in areas with a C-3 zoning. His car lot is located in a C-2 zone.The current zoning allows the sale of used cars, but only alongside new cars. When Jones first approached the planning commission for a remedy, commissioners suggested they could consider changing the definition of C-2 zoning to allow for the sale of used cars. The idea was eventually nixed.
Commissioners and staff next suggested that the property owner apply for a zoning change from C-2 to C-3. After a lengthy process, and a more than $900 in application fees, planning commissioners followed the advice of city staff and recommended denying the request. They voted under the assumption that Jones could apply for a special use permit that would allow him to continue selling used cars in Gardner for up to two years.
The city council followed suit a few weeks later. Following the suggestion of city staff and public officials, Jones applied for a temporary two- year special use permit to remedy the situation. He was informed on Nov. 18 that legal counsel had said the application is not legal. According to the city’s attorney, a special use permit can only be issued for properties that first qualify under zoning ordinances.

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