February 14, 2016

Council declines car lot rezoning

Danedri Thompson
Gardner Auto Sales owners are running out of options to keep their business within Gardner city limits.
The Gardner City Council accepted a recommendation from the Planning Commission to deny the rezoning of the lot on the south side of Gardner.
Without the rezoning and due to a permit expiration, Tyrone Jones is technically now selling cars from his lot illegally. City attorney Jim Hubbard told council members that how they enforce the zoning code is up to them, so Jones may be temporarily allowed to continue selling used cars at 18865 S. Gardner Road.
Jones was granted permission at a previous meeting to simultaneously seek a special use permit that would allow him to operate the used car lot for up to two years. The rezoning would have allowed the sale of used cars there indefinitely.
Jones did not say whether he would move forward with attempting to secure a special use permit. Council members also suggested he could look for other Gardner property that’s already zoned appropriately from which to sell his cars.
“I think the perception is that the city of Gardner doesn’t want car lots,” Jones said. “I don’t think I would take a chance to try to buy property in Gardner.”
Jones and Mr. Singh, the property owner at the lot’s existing location, first applied to sell used cars last year. When they approached city staff with the idea, they were told they would need a land use permit, which the city granted on Sept. 25, 2012. The permit stipulated that it was for six months, however Jones said city staff told him a renewal would be a formality.
With city permission in hand, Jones received his car dealer’s license from the state in November and sold his first car of 56 sales so far, on Dec. 12, 2012.
Three months later, in March 2013, the Joneses received a letter saying the land use permit was issued in error. They would need to request to have the property rezoned, from C-2 to C-3, in order to continue selling cars at that location.
“They city gave us permission and the city implied to the state of Kansas that this was OK to do and then the city changed its mind,” Jones said.
However, council member Larry Fotovich said Jones should view the erroneously issued 2012 land use permit as a gift, because had the city required that Jones go through the appropriate channels, the lot likely would not have been approved.
“You should thank the city for making a mistake,” he said.
Jones disagreed.
“Why would I thank the city for costing us money? Why would I thank the city for me quitting my job?” said Jones, who has previously told the planning commission and council that he and his wife sunk their life savings into the used car lot.
While virtually all council members agreed that the city was in error, the majority voted to deny the rezoning request. All but council vice president Kristina Harrison voted to deny the request.
She explained that if citizens don’t like the property where it is, they don’t have to buy cars from that lot.
“It’s really a choice of the consumers,” she said.
Jones left shortly after the request was denied and a police officer walked council members to their cars saying Jones was mad when he left. And police weren’t sure where Jones went when he departed.


  1. Mr Fotovich is a prime example of what’s wrong with our city council, he’s always involved in controversy from what I’ve seen living here in Gardner. The Mayor on a few occasions had to interrupt him to keep from shoving his foot farther into his mouth. Additionally the questions that he comes up with take on a life of their own until the council realizes the conversation is going nowhere.

    On the exact issue of the mistake the city made, I don’t feel enough was done to “make it right” for Mr Jones as needed to be. This has been what happens from everything that I’ve seen to drive people out of Gardner, and how can that not leave them with a bad taste in their mouth for this community. Thanks you Mrs Harrison for having the guts to vote properly in this instance.

  2. A gift? Really? A man decided to quit his job, sink his life’s savings (not an easy thing these days) and try to realize a dream of owning his own business. Which our US government is against. The city makes a mistakes, takes his money anyway for a permit and NOW it’s a “mistake”? Really? A gift, Larry? This man is taking a chance, trusting in the city to grant him a permit WHICH HE PAID FOR (hello, consumer?) and NOW it’s a mistake. So from I’m reading, he can now apply for a SUP, a special use permit. Is that going to cost him more money? Can it be denied? How long can he use it for? Will he have to reapply after the time frame is up? How can he trust that THIS permit will not be in error?

    And, of course he left mad. Was it necessary for police escorts? Implying he is going to come back and hurt someone? Oh, yeah, that’s happened before with our own city council members. Seems someone followed someone home and beat them up in the front yard? Sound familiar? That’s called precedence, folks. And I hope I’m spelling that word right. (Spell check says yes) So don’t take that too much to heart, Mr Jones. The two junior high-minded boys who started that are to blame, not you. Good luck to you and I hope you do get your SUP and you continue to kick butt selling cars in this town, because your business is apparently something this town needs. It seems we are always driving to Olathe for something and it’s really nice to see a business here in Gardner that we can use instead of making the trip.

  3. back when I lived in Gardner we would have loved to have a car lot there, Gardner was small back then 2500 people in the town the middle school was the high school. everyone knew everyone. if you had a problem you worked it out. it sounds to me like the city council has a plan of its own. that is really to bad instead of the whole town being better off it sounds like just the council, is better off.

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