Permit denied for auto business
The Morgan County Planning Commission voted 4-3 to deny a permit for an auto repair and dealership near Marigold Lane in the southern part of Morgan County and ordered the owner to remove the unlicensed vehicles from his property.
The vote was cast at the Tuesday evening, May 22 meeting.
Robert and Susan Summers had applied for a Commercial & Industrial Location Permit at 110 Daisy Lane to construct a 54’ x 39’ building to house multiple cars, trucks and campers that are currently scattered across the three lots they own, and a 17’ x 16’ office addition to an existing building.
Robert Summers is currently in violation of both the county Salvage Yard Ordinance and West Virginia Division of Highways Salvage Yard regulations, according to county officials.
Summers argued that he needed the permit in order to rectify the violations. Placing the vehicles in the proposed new building and hiding them from view would satisfy the salvage yard regulations, while opening the dealership would allow him to sell the vehicles, he said.
Planning Commission President Jack Soronen said it has been the policy of the Planning Commission not to issue a building permit as long as a violation exists.
“We are not going to entertain a request for another action until there has been some resolution to this violation,” Soronen said.
The planning board voted unanimously to deny the commercial building permit because paperwork for the request was incomplete.
During the discussion, the planners noted the permit would not be approved
in the future because the entrance from U.S. 522 via Marigold Lane did not have a wide enough right-of-way to support commercial activity.
Planning board member Wayne Omps suggested delaying the enforcement of the violation for six months to allow Summers to construct a building in which to store the vehicles. This could be done under a residential building permit.
Summers said he had already purchased 98% of the materials needed for the building.
Planning member Scott Swaim said four months was a more appropriate time frame to insure the building was finished before winter set in. He suggested tabling the issue for 30 days to see if Summers returns with a workable plan of action.
Commission member Eric LaRue was adamant the violation needed to be resolved before any type of building permit is issued.
“This is not the answer to the problem. The cars are not going to fit in the building. This is just a ploy, in my opinion, to extend an ongoing problem to keep from having legal problems,” LaRue said.
“I need the building even without the cars,” Summers said. He said he already has a state license to run an auto repair shop.
County Planner Alma Gorse said the problem with Summers and his vehicles has been around since 1998.
“In this case, the next step is legal action. This has not gone away in 13 years,” she said.
Gorse explained that Summers has twice been ordered by Magistrate Court to remove the vehicles after complaints were filed by the Division of Highways. Both times the vehicles were moved to other locations, but the same unsold and unlicensed vehicles eventually returned to his property.
Summers said he recently suffered from cancer and has been more concerned about his health than the vehicles.
Planning member Amy Lane suggested giving Summers 30 days to get rid of the vehicles.
Commissioner Mary Ellen Largent made a motion for the Planning Commission to delay legal enforcement against Summers until the next meeting to allow him time to meet the requirements of the Salvage Yard Ordinance, and that no building permits would be issued while the violation exists.
Jim Hoyt seconded the motion. When the vote was taken, Largent, Hoyt, LaRue and Lane voted yes while Omps, Swaim and Sue Parker were opposed.
“Even though this is what I would call an egregious, longstanding and willful violation of our Salvage Yard Ordinance as well as state regulations, we are going to go the extra mile and delay the contacting of enforcement agencies until our next meeting, at which time we will consider whether you made an effort to correct the situation,” Soronen said.
“The only objection I have is to the word ‘willful.’ Believe me, I don’t want the mess either,” Summers replied.
Summers has until the next Planning Commission meeting on June 26 to remove the vehicles.