A Kent towing company has crossed the line between upsetting neighbors and breaking the law.
The city has issued a civil infraction warning to Baker's Towing & Auto Repair for operating at 634 Lake St. just a few hundred feet west from its legally permitted location.
The company is in the midst of applying to the Kent Board of Zoning Appeals for a "substitution of a non-conforming use" request that would allow the business to move from 667 Lake St. to the new location at 634 Lake St.
The zoning board won't vote on the non-conforming use request until later this month, so legally Baker's Towing can't run its business at the new location, which is zoned R-3 for residential use.
Kent planning engineer Heather Phile said the city will stay enforcement of the civil infraction while Baker's Towing works through the application process.
"Since they are in the process, we typically do not cite them for anything else, as they are trying to come into compliance," Phile said. "If Baker's is not successful at the BZA, he does have a right to appeal their decision to the (Portage) County Common Pleas court. This can draw the process out even further and such action would stay any further enforcement by the city."
Meanwhile, neighbors of the proposed relocation remain organized against Baker's Towing moving to 634 Lake St.
Kirk Noden, one of the primary organizers of residents opposed to the relocation, said more than 150 homeowners and residents have organized to oppose Baker's request by planning to attend the zoning board meeting, writing letters to Kent City Council members and canvassing neighborhoods to talk about it.
Noden said Baker's is already towing and reparing cars at the lot.
"I think there are other ways for the city to address it," Noden said. "Neighbors are concerned that even if they are denied a non conforming use permit or the decision is delayed, Baker's will just continue to operate its business there illegally."
The towing company is being forced to relocate because the building it operates in now is part of the former Gougler Industries complex and is scheduled for demolition.
Aubrey Baker, the owner of Baker's Towing, told Kent Patch in a previous interview that he was unable to find a suitable new location for his auto repair other than the property behind the Nodens' house. Buying land and building a new garage would force him to raise prices exorbitantly, Baker said.
Baker's request is on the zoning board agenda for the June 18 meeting at 7 p.m. at the city hall complex on South DePeyster Street.