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ZAP rejects 2222 Coalition appeal on site plan extension

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 by Kimberly Reeves

The 2222 Coalition of Neighborhood Associations expressed plenty of displeasure but failed to overturn a proposed site plan on a gas station just outside the city limits at the Zoning and Platting Commission last week.

The fact that the property was just outside the city limits – and its original owner had rejected annexation – was the reason ZAP members, one after another, told Carol Torgrimson and her neighbors their hands were tied on the site plan.

The applicant had asked for an extension to complete the requirements of a site plan. The neighborhood wanted the administrative approval of that extension overturned. Commissioners held out little hope of that happening.

The neighborhood still plowed through the hearing, though, insisting that the site plan should be denied because the applicant failed to meet the 180-day timeline for items such as the service extension request in a timely fashion.

“We’re hoping the commission will do anything in its power to give us any hope,” Torgrimson told ZAP. “This really is unfortunate that this is taking place. Of all the jurisdictions, no one believes this gas station is a good idea.”

That simply wasn’t enough to uphold the appeal of the site plan extension. Even though the applicant was late, he did eventually complete all the required paperwork to file the site plan on the property, located at 6720 Vaught Ranch Road.

“Do you understand if ZAP denies their extension, they could re-file the exact same plan tomorrow?” asked Commissioner Keith Jackson. “If nothing is subsequently changing, then all you have done is that they’ve paid another application fee.”

Johnny Vaught, who sold the property, offered his own protest. Vaught said his family owned the property for over 50 years and had only sold it recently because he couldn’t afford the property taxes. His house still backs up to the land in question. Vaught said the location was hardly ideal for a service station, given that it had no stoplight and would require an awkward turn back onto the road.

“There’s no stop light,” Vaught said. “I cannot see people pulling up this road to get to a service station. “It just doesn’t work. This would be a proper place for an office… a doctor’s office, maybe a single merchant… it just does not work for a service station. There’s too much traffic in and out.”

Chair Betty Baker noted his concerns with some sympathy but still got back to her point in her typical no-nonsense manner.

“We have absolutely no discretion about this site plan. We have no jurisdiction,” said Baker, alluding to the fact the land was just outside the city limits. “The only thing on our menu tonight is whether to extend this review period for an existing site plan.”

No one seemed inclined to do that, although other couple of neighbors offered their criticisms of the site, noting safety issues and such. Those were the kind of things that would be relevant to a zoning case on the property. Ed King of the Long Canyon Homeowners Association even accused the commissioners of allowing the applicant to game the system by extending its own timelines.

“I sympathize with you more than you will ever know, but the only thing we have before us is whether to approve or deny the appeal,” Baker said. “If we don’t give them the extension, it might take a little bit longer, but as Mr. Jackson said, it would take them very little time to re-file their application.”

So where was the juncture to protest? Jackson noted it might be the service extension agreement, although a protest before Council on that might be futile, given that service had been extended across the road already.

At the final vote, ZAP unanimously denied CONA 2222’s appeal of the administrative decision on the site plan.

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