The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
What’s a poor developer to do? The City gives away the farm for one development but balks at rolling over for another one. While it's OK to tax Wal-Mart customers 1/2 cent on the dollar for the Hawthorne developer, the guy who thinks the old Opera House would make nice apartments can't even buy a parking lot.
The way I understand it, the developer wants to convert the whole Opera House (at the corner of Pine & Washington), upstairs and down, into 17 apartments. He thought he'd found a loophole in the downtown zoning rules that would allow him to do so without providing parking for the tenants. The rest of downtown, led by Main Street, said, "wait a minute." The merchants don't want their already-limited parking taken up by a bunch of apartment dwellers and Main Street wants retail businesses on the ground floor. The developer asked about buying a city-owned parking lot, and the City wouldn't sell. Then, he wanted to designate 3 street spaces for customers of each business and let his tenants park in all the rest - I guess he hasn't looked across the street to see Those Were the Days on a busy day.
As a Libertarian, I generally dislike controls on the use of private property. What we have here, however, is a property owner wishing to use others' property for his own benefit. While the property in this case belongs to the City, it is held for the common good of all citizens, both business owners and shoppers. If one property owner is allowed to convert this property (parking spaces) to his own use, he has taken something of value (easy access) from all who may use downtown. It is the property owner's responsibility to provide parking for his tenants, not the City's.
I'd hope that some sort of compromise could be reached on the number of spaces required so that the developer could acquire the needed property without adversely affecting downtown. Perhaps he could recoup his extra costs by charging more for an apartment with parking. If no compromise is reached, the Planning and Zoning Commission and eventually the City Council will make a decision, after which I expect the developer will sue the City.
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