Springfield rejects rezoning for used car lot after neighbors object

A rezoning request for a proposed car lot on East High Street has been rejected because it didn’t fit the neighborhood, local leaders said.

Springfield city commissioners unanimously rejected Tuesday the rezoning for a proposed half-acre car lot at 2440 E. High St. The Springfield City Planning Board members also recommended in January denying the request.

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If the rezoning from office to a commercial community district was approved, the developer also would have had to receive a conditional use permit from the Board of Zoning Appeals, Springfield Planning, Zoning and Code Administrator Stephen Thompson said.

South Vienna resident Ryan Gould purchased the property for $50,000 in November. It previously served as an office for a local outpatient drug and alcohol treatment center.

Gould wants to start his first business and is in the process of getting a car dealer license, he said. The property’s zoning must be changed in order for Gould to pursue his license, he said. Gould was aware the property wasn’t zoned properly for a car lot when he purchased it.

“I think you’re a genuine person who is trying to do something of value but I just don’t think it fits the neighborhood,” Springfield Mayor Copeland said. “I hope you can get your money back out of it and I hope you can find a better place to have a used car lot.”

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City Commissioner David Estrop voted against the proposed car lot to protect the neighborhood, he said.

“We need to be protecting and building and strengthening our residential neighborhoods, not chipping away at them,” Estrop said.

City staff members may work with Gould to find another property that’s properly zoned for a used car lot, Estrop said.

The current zoning makes sense, City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill said. The new zoning would allow for the property to become something bigger, he said.

“That’s a problem,” O’Neill said.

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Gould told commissioners he didn’t think traffic would be an issue at the proposed lot.

“I don’t believe there’s going to be that much in-and-out compared to a doctor’s office,” he said. “I think a doctor’s office would have more cars going in-and-out.”

About 3,000-square-feet of the property would have been set aside for parking, Gould said, providing about six to eight spaces for public parking. The total space is about 9,700 square feet, he said. The building has been empty for several years, Gould said.

“I have great intentions on sprucing it up, making the outside look great,” Gould said. “I plan on keeping my lot neat and not congested.”

Local insurance agent Anna Husted’s office is located next door to the property at 2444 E. High St. She also owns a rental home on the other side of the property.

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The developer has said he could have between four and 10 cars for sale on the lot, Husted said.

“It’s really a concern because once it’s approved, there’s no way to monitor how many vehicles he has,” Husted said.

A similar car lot converted from an office on Burnett Road has become an eyesore because of the number of cars on the lot, Husted said.

“It’s just so crowded,” she said.

The lot also wouldn’t fit with the historical characteristics of the neighborhood, Husted said.

“People are getting off of (Interstate 70) coming down High Street to see the Frank Lloyd Wright house and they’re going to see a car lot,” she said. “That shouldn’t be allowed.”

Cars parked along the street would block her sign, Husted said. Traffic and crime would increase, while property values would decrease, she said.

“Who wants to buy a home or rent beside of a used car lot?” Husted asked.


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