August 31, 2014

City debates waiver for used car lot issue

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
The used car lot saga continues.
City council members did not decide whether a used car lot on the south side of town can continue to operate indefinitely, but they agreed to allow the lot’s proprietor, Tyrone Jones, the opportunity to seek alternate means of resolution.
Council members waived a provision of city code that limits landowners from applying for one rezoning, or special use permit or conditional use permit for the same property within 12 months.
Jones has applied for a rezoning of the property at 18865 S. Gardner Road, and planning commissioners will consider the request at an Aug. 27 meeting. The waiver council members granted during an Aug. 19 council meeting will allow Jones to apply for a special use permit should the rezoning fail.
“This is a request for permission to apply, not permission,” community development director Mike Hall explained to council.
Jones said he was requesting the waiver, in part, due to confusion.
In September 2012, a former city employee granted Jones a land use permit for the sale of used cars on a lot that also contains a gas station and convenience store. Though the permit was only issued for six months, staff told Jones that renewing it would be a simple formality.
Five months later, city officials sent Jones a letter informing him that the permit was issued in error, because the property’s zoning did not allow for used car sales. The letter requested that car sales should cease at the lot at the end of March, and in the meantime, Jones could seek to have the property rezoned.
However, when the issue was initially brought before the planning commission, city staff recommended that the rezoning be denied, and planning commissioners suggested that a better solution may be for Jones to request a special use permit that could be granted for a set period. Planners suggested the permit could expire within two years or up to five years.
Jones told council members he’s confused.
“It’s not so much that the city wants this car lot,” he said. “The city messed up… At this point, I don’t understand. We followed the city’s rules.”
Council members seemed confused as well. Hall said it would be difficult for the city to prepare for a rezoning request and a special use permit for the same property over the same issue simultaneously. Staff recommended that the council grant the waiver request only if Jones agreed to withdraw the rezoning request.
Ideally, Hall said, Jones would withdraw the rezoning request and seek a special use permit instead. “It may be difficult to do both, but difficult is not impossible,” council member Heath Freeman said.
The rezoning would allow Jones to operate the car lot on the site indefinitely.
“I think I should still have the option of going with the rezone,” Jones explained.
Council members Larry Fotovich and Steve Shute voted to table the waiver request granting permission for a second application until the rezoning process is finished or the rezoning request is withdrawn. The duo was outvoted, however.
Council member Kristina Harrison said allowing the waiver now would save time and give Jones maximum flexibility.
“I think we should grant the waiver tonight, so they could be working on both (rezoning and special use permit),” council member Tory Roberts agreed.
Council members approved the waiver allowing Jones to request a special use permit in addition to the application for rezoning.
Also at issue was a $900 fee Jones paid to initiate the rezoning request, and a second fee Hall estimated at $300-$400 for a special use permit request. Council members did not agree to waive any fees, though the issue could be considered during a later meeting.
Planning commissioners will consider the rezoning at an Aug. 27 meeting. Their recommendation – to approve or deny rezoning – will be forwarded to the city council for consideration at a later council meeting.
In other business, council members:
• approved the purchase of a $22,606, one-ton pick-up truck for Gardner Parks and Recreation’s maintenance division.
• authorized the city to purchase $43,370 of dump truck equipment.
• accepted a permanent drainage easement from the Gardner Edgerton School District at the new elementary and middle school campus.
• accepted two permanent drainage easements from the QuikTrip.
• authorized change orders worth $152,601 for the White Drive Sewer Project.
• approved a $21,558 contract for grounding, conduit and wiring at the Hillsdale Water Treatment Plant.
• approved a $7,182 change order for excavating clay at a retention pond at the Hillsdale Water Treatment Plant.
• adopted a resolution requesting the Johnson County Board of Commissioners allow the annexation of the Waverly Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is located in the unincorporated part of the county on land that is not contiguous with the city of Gardner.
• approved a change order to the construction project for the Moonlight and Grand intersection project.

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