The Jefferson County Council decided not to decide on a rezoning request by Passing Lane Motors Monday when it referred a proposal by owner Daryl Ball back to the county's planning department for review.
At issue is a variance to the zoning at Passing Lane Motors that would allow Ball to continue to have banquets and small parties at his classic and collectible car dealership at 514 Mae Court, Fenton
Some members of the council, notably Council Member Don Bickowski, are concerned that the parking plan for Passing Lane Motors' customers is not in compliance with what is called for under county zoning regulations. Bickowski says overflow parking is a problem.
Ball, however, disagrees with that contention, telling the council he has never had a problem with parking spots since he has obtained signed and notarized agreements with his business neighbors to use their parking lots during the times of Passing Lane's parties and banquets. Ball also says he employs parking guides to make sure customers aren't using spaces from other businesses that might object to using their lots.
Nevertheless, Bickowski says the parking issue needs to be resolved before any rezoning request is approved so that it doesn't become a problem in the future.
"We have to take care of this up front," he said Tuesday. "What we need is a parking plan from Daryl Ball."
"I thought we had a parking plan," Ball said, referring to the agreements with his neighbors to use portions of their parking lots.
But Bickowski indicated the agreements are too general in nature. He would prefer to see striped parking spaces that he could count so he could easily see that Passing Lane Motors complies with the number of spaces required under the county code.
All of that now will have to be sorted out by the county's planning department, as the rezoning request is back under its purview. The planning department will investigate the parking and possibly other issues and make a recommendation to the council at a future meeting.
Ball is clearly frustrated at the latest turn of events. He says he has done everything possible to prevent parking from being a problem for his neighbors and yet the council fails to see the value of his efforts and the potential or his unique business.
"It's very frustrating to try and get anything done in this county," Ball said. "It is not very business-friendly."
Ball has said he may have to move his business from Jefferson County where he was born and raised and where he has grown his business. Although he never intended to start a banquet business when he opened his collectible and classic car dealership, he said the unique surroundings have created a profitable niche for small parties in his car-friendly showroom. If it becomes necessary to move in order to keep his business on a profitable curve, he says he may have no other choice but to do so.
As for now, he'll be putting together some sort of parking plan he hopes is acceptable to the county planning division and, ultimately, the county council.