Commission votes to move forward on process
County commissioners have agreed to hold a public hearing on a proposal to allow a car care center in the Kohl’s shopping center at Tom Short and Rea roads. By a 3 to 2 vote, with commissioners Todd Johnson and Jonathan Thomas in opposition, the board agreed to bring the controversial item up for a hearing in the near future.
“I feel he needs his day in court,” County Commission Chairman Jerry Simpson said. “This is not about the issue of an (individual) project.”
Raley-Miller CEO David Miller filed a request earlier this year for a change in the county’s zoning for the commercial property, located right in front of the Kohl’s at the intersection of Tom Short and Rea roads. Currently car repair shops aren’t allowed in the B2 zoning district. The text amendment would allow Miller to contract with AAA for a car care center.
But residents complain a car care center is a far cry from what Miller originally promoted for the property. In talks earlier this year, Miller met with Hunter Oaks Homeowners Association President Todd Haynes and Ivy Brook Academy owner Drew McWilliams, as well as organizing multiple neighborhood meetings, to discuss what would be in the Kohl’s shopping center. The discussions and plans at that time pointed to a retail only establishment, with a Dunkin Doughnuts and other stores to shop.
“We should not be making global text amendments for individual properties,” homeowner Liza Kravis told county commissioners. “We have several neighborhoods in our area, over 2,000 homes. There are a lot of safety concerns about this enterprise.”
Kravis said that she and others were concerned about the impact of flammable materials at the center, something she didn’t want close to her neighborhood.
Some commissioners meanwhile argued that they needed to at least let the property owner have a public hearing.
“We accepted money from someone who went through the process and now we say no hearing for you,” Commissioner Tracy Kuehler said. “I think the applicant has a right, he did nothing wrong.”
Opposing commissioners pointed out that by a unanimous vote, they had agreed to stop hearing all text amendments in December 2010, until the county land use plan could be rewritten.
“This board made a decision to suspend text amendments,” Johnson said.
County attorney Jeff Crook explained that due to the way the ordinance is currently written, once the request was filed, the planning board had to hear and make a recommendation. The county commission did not.
County planning director Dick Black said that in December 2010, the commission had voted to suspend any text amendments proposed by the county, not by other applicants. Since that vote, the Raley-Miller amendment was the first one to come before the planning board.
Black said a land use rewrite would take up to 18 months.