Local Community Development Corporations

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Continuing Saga of the Davis Garage and the Proposed W-S Transit Route

Proposal to move Davis Garage to new site to be heard by City-County Planning Board

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The future of a proposed new location for Davis Garagecould be decided when the City-County Planning Board meets this afternoon for its monthly public hearing.

Harvey Davis wants 4.77 acres rezoned from residential to highway business so he can move his auto-repair and towing business now located in the old train depot off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The city is working to seize the depot by eminent domain and turn it into a transportation hub.

Last month, the board postponed a vote on Davis' request to rezone property he owns near South Stratford and Jonestown roads from residential to highway business. The city-county planning staff recommended that the board deny Davis' request.

"The recently adopted Southwest Suburban Area Plan (in 2009) recommends moderate, density residential for this property and not commercial," Gary Roberts, a project planner for the City-County Planning Department, said about the staff's recommendation.

To the southeast, southwest and northwest of the property are single-family homes and undeveloped property, and to the northeast are undeveloped land and office buildings, according to a planning staff report.

Davis made a similar request in 2006 to rezone the property off South Stratford Road before he purchased it.

Roberts said the planning board voted to deny the rezoning because there was no site plan.

Davis said there was no site plan because he was busy negotiating with the city about the depot property and didn't know what size building he wanted or where to put it on the site off South Stratford Road.

He said his current proposal has been scaled back. Instead of a two-story structure with a fitness center and auto-repair business, he has proposed a one-level building for auto repair and towing services that would generate limited traffic.

Davis said that while there's a house next door to the site, there aren't other homes directly around it. He believes that the building he has proposed will fit in with the neighborhood.

"It will not be an eyesore," he said. "We will have screening on the sides and fencing. You won't see any unsightly views of anything. I think it will be a business that will be appreciated and convenient for the community to use, and I hope to be a good neighbor."

Several neighbors from the nearby Huntington Woods subdivision off Jonestown Road spoke in opposition to the rezoning last month. They were concerned that a garage would increase traffic and change the quiet, residential character of the area.

Preston Corbett told board members then that the site Davis wanted to build on was not the location for a maintenance business.

"When you go past a lot of auto maintenance facilities, they look like a big junkyard and, quite frankly, we do not care to have a junkyard in our backyard," Corbett said.

Jeannette Adams, who lives about 4 miles from the site, sent a letter to the planning board this week, stating that a garage in the area would devalue the homes in the Huntington Woods subdivision and those along Stratford and Jonestown roads.

Yesterday, she said most garages she has seen across the city are eyesores with chain-link fences and one or more cars parked out front.

"You give (businesses) one inch and they will take a mile, and the first thing you know they will be encroaching on everything," Adams said. "I'm looking at the overall picture as a citizen."


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