There seemed to be some confusion at last week’s Wayland Town Board meeting as to the purpose of rezoning a piece of property Pat McAllister wants to build a carwash on.
The first thing that should be pointed out is that the Planning Board did exactly what they are appointed to do. Look at the facts of a case before them, interpret the facts to come to a conclusion, and then recommend an action on the case to the Town Board. In the end; the Town Board has the ultimate authority to accept this recommendation or, reject it if further discussion creates a better understanding of the rules governing rezoning.
The Town Board did exactly what they are elected to do when this discussion led to the vote to rezone the parcels in question and then schedule a public hearing to get public opinion on the issue. And, Pat McAllister was correct when he said that this is something that happens all over the county and country.
Planning Board Chair Bob Reigelsperger explained the time and effort they put into this recommendation and gave a good reason to explain denying the rezoning. But during the Town Board meeting, Reigelsperger also readily admitted he didn’t know why these small parcels were originally zoned residential/agriculture. And that is the crux of the problem here.
Once zoning is in place, you don’t just plop a house in the middle of a clearly zoned business area, nor do you plop a business in the middle of a residentially zoned area. The lines drawn are clear and common sense comes into play.
However, the parcels in question occupy the gray area that comes about when zoning occurs everywhere and are the perfect example of why they can – and should – be rezoned.  If one looks at a tax map, only a couple of houses butt up to these parcels in an area that is filled with businesses. Once zoning was complete, this area of the Town that borders the Village became what is commonly called a “mixed use” area.
In my 20 plus months of covering the Planning Board decisions in North Little Rock, Ark. I saw this situation come up time and again. Granted, North Little Rock covers about 54 square miles that hold a large number of these “mixed use” situations. The majority of time, a rezoning request such as this one in Wayland was approved as long as the business in question blended into the neighborhood and didn’t create a hardship on its residential nature. There were denial recommendations given when the business simply didn’t fit the criteria.
This appears to be why the Planning Board hesitated to simply approve the rezoning; it hadn’t had to deal with this type of zoning gray area and rightly sent it along to the Town Board for a further, logical dialogue on the pros and cons of doing so.
If anything, McAllister did the right thing in asking for rezoning rather than a variance to the rules. A variance is a tool used by property owners to request that the rules – such as a setback or other rules that dictate a minimum requirement that can’t be met by the very nature of the property – be relaxed because of a hardship in meeting them. The “mixed use” of this area dictates that it be rezoned to reflect the majority of its overall use.
There were also claims at the meeting that this rezoning would amount to “spot zoning,” but this practice is more closely associated with a variance rather than a full rezoning. And it is seen rightly as unethical if it is used to give a particular property owner special treatment for questionable reasons. McAllister said several times he is not asking for special treatment and is only asking that the request be approved or disapproved on its merits alone.
If you want to see a long overdue carwash that would bring in more tax money than its current and possibly forever future if left as a vacant lot, the public hearing is scheduled for the Town Board’s regular monthly meeting June 14.
Your opinion counts, so send a letter to the editor if you wish – either for or against this issue – or come to the hearing to voice it.
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On another note: At last week’s Dansville Village Board meeting, Trustee Andy Kershner refused to give Trustee Don Sylor an explanation as to why he asked him to refrain from talking to Village employees April 19. Kershner said that this was somehow Sylor’s fault for breaking the “confidentiality” of their conversation by going “to the press.”
Kershner never gave a reason for the “bizarre” request, as Sylor called it, at the initial meeting and in fact had asked Police Chief Charlie Perkins (without explaining to Perkins what it was about) to sit in on that meeting basically negating a confidential meeting. Sylor said all Kershner did was drop phrases like “violence can come in several forms” and “if you agree I won’t have to fill out forms (or paperwork – Sylor said he wasn’t sure which word he used).”
At the Board meeting Kershner then mentioned the Village Workplace/Violence Prevention Policy document that had been handed out to the trustees and mayor as being somehow connected to the no-talk request. And of course this was done in full earshot of the Board and meeting gallery who could only speculate on what Sylor may or may not have done to warrant a tie between the no-talk request and Violence Prevention.
Sylor is absolutely within his rights to want a full explanation – in public considering the allusion to violence – as to the reason Kershner asked him the question. The other trustees and the mayor should ensure that this happens to either clear Sylor of any wrongdoing or bring out that a Village employee in fact has had a problem with Sylor in the past that needs to be addressed.
Kershner’s request is not much different than anyone having an in-law come up to them in front of the family clergy, asking them to agree to stop talking to their own children, and then just walk away without an explanation. What questions would arise in this situation?
Just because you don’t want to talk anymore doesn’t relieve you of the obligation to explain your actions. That is the way society works.