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Zoning Board Delays Vote on Baker's Towing Relocation Across Lake Street

Residents who opposed relocation filled city hall to capacity Monday

The owner of Baker's Towing & Auto Repair and the residents opposed to his relocation will have to wait another month to learn if his business has a future in their Lake Street neighborhood.

The Kent Board of Zoning Appeals opted to table their discussion and vote on a request from the company's owner, Aubrey Baker, for a substitution of a non-conforming use certificate to allow his business to relocate to a piece of property zoned R-3 for residential use at 634 Lake St.

The zoning board chose to delay their vote until their July meeting after a four and-a-half hour session Monday night — and at the suggestion of Baker's attorney, Thomas Reitz.

"Frankly, we’re all exhausted," Reitz said to the board. "We would request that you consider your deliberations until the next meeting when you’re rested and you can give it your full attention."

His suggestion was met with a loud shout of "I object" from a member of the capacity crowd at Kent city hall. The shout drew a stern reprimand and several loud gavel bangs from Elizabeth Howard, the chair of the zoning board, who praised the audience for sitting civilly through the long meeting.

"This has been a wonderful meeting ... until this moment," Howard said. "And I won't have it."

The zoning board sat through two lengthy topics before even getting to the relocation issue, which included a presentation from Reitz, testimony from 29 residents — both for and against the issue — and then a rebuttal from Reitz before the meeting ended around 11:30 p.m.

The board members also were given dozens of pages of correspendence that included letters, a petition, photos, a slide presentation and other documentation on the issue, some of which was not presented until Monday night.

The crowd was largely cordial, and many of the residents who spoke in opposition of the relocation said they wished Baker well but didn't think his business fit in their residentially zoned neighborhood.

Ultimately, the zoning board voted unanimously to table their discussion in order to have time to review and digest the material presented and the comments made at Monday's meeting.

"I do think we really need some time to review this and digest the material," zoning board member Paul Sellman said.

Eric Fink, Kent's assistant law director, pointed out that the board's action was to continue Monday's meeting where it left off at the July meeting.

"We would not be going through the same comment period," he said. "There would not be opportunity for either the applicant or the response to be given further say. It would be for the public to hear the (board) discussion that would take place on this matter only."

The zoning board meets the third Monday of each month.

Scroll down for past coverage:

The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! July 01, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Somehow, that feels like a threat. You better... Or he'll...
Casey Myers July 01, 2012 at 01:09 AM
@Dan, in a democracy it tends to be. Popular vote, in one way or another, decides quite a few things.
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! July 01, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Better yet, he indeed can put something else in there that will run all night an meet the current zoning. Like a bakery or pastry shop. We'll welcome that aroma versus the typical emissions from an auto repair shop.
Teresa K. July 01, 2012 at 12:16 PM
@Mary: I agree. A pastry or bakery would be more welcome than an automovite repair site in the neighborhood. Whatever business goes in there should follow codes and no special variances or certificates should be needed. @ Alyssa: our fear isn't what Mr. Baker MIGHT put in there in place of an auto repair shop. Baker's as a business basically FORCED themselves onto a neighborhood, said "here me is" and set up business. The permission to operate there apparently comes AFTER THE FACT of moving in. He doesn't own the place. It is not in his name.
Marilyn Carlson July 02, 2012 at 04:31 AM
@Ms. Alyssa: "meet the current zoning" YOU just said it! meet the current zoning! anything that meets the CURRENT ZONING is welcome not mater what and the neighbors have nothing to say. I'm glad that you finally understood. Now go back to Mr. Baker and his lawyer and try to make them understand although I think THEY KNOW... they are just playing dirty.

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