Business owner Bruce Motheral has been looking to build a parking lot behind his shopping center since 2017, but he has not found success. The most recent Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting was of no avail, either.
During a meeting on Thursday, the Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously denied Motheral’s request to reverse a decision the development services department made to reject his parking lot application.
Motheral turned in an application to the development services department to build a parking lot at 829 Clay St. The goal of the parking lot is to address the overflowing traffic at the Soaring Dragon restaurant in Motheral’s shopping center that faces Sidney Baker.
“The (current) parking lot pretty well stays full during peak hours — lunch, dinner,” said Motheral’s attorney, Patrick Cohoon. “They’re looking for relief. Everybody that’s been down Sidney Baker knows the kind of traffic that’s experienced there.”
While the Clay Street property is directly behind Motheral’s shopping center, it is in a different zone — the “RT” zone, which doesn’t usually allow parking lots.
However, a provision in the city’s code states, “No person shall use property located in one zoning district to provide parking for or access to a use located on a property located in another zoning district unless the property being used for said parking or access is also zoned to permit, as a matter of right or permit upon or permitted upon issuance of a conditional use permit, the use for which such parking or access is desired.”
Since the parking lot would be intended for the Soaring Dragon restaurant, it should be allowed in an RT zone as restaurants are allowed in RT zones, Cohoon said.
Staff denied Motheral’s request based on the fact that the other businesses in Motheral’s shopping center aren’t allowed in the RT zone.
“It becomes unenforceable from a city standpoint,” said Drew Paxton, the executive director of development services. “Our staff can’t sit in the parking lot to see which car parked and which tenant space they’re going into. To say that just the restaurant is using these parking spaces would be unfair.”
Many residents around the Clay Street area said they were against the parking lot because of how much traffic and hubbub it would bring to their neighborhood.
“Our objection to this is that we’re trying to sustain the livability of the area,” said resident Jesus Valdez. “We want to maintain what it used to be, what it is right now. Adding more traffic to that area is not going to help (residents’) ears, not going to help the congestion.”
Another, Carolyn Lipscomb, said it’s important to remember not just the wording of a code but the intent behind the code, too.
Board members said it’s tough not being able to accommodate everyone.
“I can understand the want,” said board member Pablo Brinkman. “I’m struggling with it.”