Daryl Ball, owner of a unique business called Passing Lane Motors, hopes a decision by the Jefferson County Council won't put him in the exit lane from the county where he has lived his entire life.
, is a classic and collectible cars dealership at 514 Mae Court, Fenton. What started as a place to show off Ball's collection of classic cars has developed into a destination for small banquets, birthday and anniversary parties, and even the occasional wedding reception. The problem is that the zoning regulations for Ball's business does not allow those uses, which Ball said he didn't realize until recently.
In order to rectify the situation, Ball took the necessary steps to have his business rezoned, which would allow him to continue to grow a business that has been on an upward track.
That's where the problem comes in. In seeking rezoning for his business, Ball says has the support from his business neighbors, except for one - , located across the street. Grand Slam Sports owner Ed Pupillo says there aren't enough parking spaces available for his and Passing Lanes Motors' customers, especially if each has special events at the same time.
Ball says he has enough parking spaces, or has secured written, notarized agreements with neighboring businesses for parking access, so that lack of parking parking is not an issue. Besides, he says, the events at Passing Lane Motors rarely generate enough patrons to cause parking problems. Ball also says he is very conscientious about making sure his customers are not parking where they shouldn't be. He employs staff members to direct Passing Lane guests to the right areas to park their cars, a measure he says he has taken in an effort to address any potential parking issues before they occur.
"We have never had a complaint about parking," Ball says. "We make sure nobody parks where they shouldn't."
Ball says the objections by Pupillo are personal.
Pupillo once performed catering and bartending duties for Passing Lane Motors, but no longer does. Those responsibilities are now done by someone else.
"Mr. Pupillo did not have a problem with overflow parking when he was doing our catering and running our bar," Ball said at a meeting of the Jefferson County Council recently where Passing Lane's rezoning request was being discussed. "When we brought in outside caterers and got our liquor license, parking suddenly became a problem."
Pupillo presented a letter in evidence to the county council outlining his objections to Ball's rezoning request.
"I respectfully request that you deny any use change until a permanent and meaningful solution to this parking problem can be found," Pupillo's letter to the county council stated.
Ball says his customers are not causing a parking problem and besides, he has written agreements to provide extra parking space if needed. He says Grand Slam attracts far more customers than Passing Lane Motors and are more likely to be a problem than the customers that attend Passing Lane's smaller events.
First District County Council member Don Bickowski is the main proponent in the rezoning request issue, saying if Passing Lane Motors becomes more successful in the future parking "could become a problem." He said he wants to make sure there is a parking plan in place to address any potential future conflicts.
"This is the time to get this resolved here and now," Bickowski said. "Parking in the area is at a premium. If the business expands and attracts more people, there won't be enough parking spaces for them."
"Isn't that something?" Ball says. "He's worried about a unique Jefferson County business becoming too successful."
The rezoning matter is on Monday's (July23) Jefferson County Council agenda.
Ball says he's gone "above and beyond" in an effort to provide parking access to his customers and not be a nuisance to his neighbors. If his business continues to grow he has pledged to take steps to provide parking for his guests. However, if his rezoning request is denied, he said he may have to seek another solution, which could include moving to a more "business-friendly" community.
"I would much rather put all my time and effort into building our business," Ball said. "I was born and raised in Jefferson County, why would I want to go anywhere else?"
But Ball says that even though he would "hate to move," denial of his rezoning request may leave him no other option.
"We're paying taxes in Jefferson County and if our business grows, we'll be paying more," Ball said. "You'd think the county would want that."
Ball hopes to generate some community support from those who have experienced his business. The county council took the Passing Lane rezoning request under advisement at it's last meeting, but is expected to vote on it Monday. The council meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the Admin Center Assembly Room, 729 Maple St., Hillsboro.