For Magnolia mechanic Parker Meredith, third time was the charm as his application for a conditional use permit was granted last week. It was the third time he had appeared before the LaRue County Board of Adjustments since July, requesting a permit to work on cars at his home at 126 Old L&N Turnpike.
Board chairman Jim Whitlow, who has been on the board 24 years, said he could not remember another instance where an individual tried for a permit three times.
Meredith’s house and garage are in a single-family residential district, which according to planning and zoning regulations, does not permit businesses without a conditional use permit.
His application was denied unanimously in July after the board heard complaints from two business owners who have auto shops on commercial property in Magnolia. Solid Waste Coordinator Jill Gray said she had received “a lot of complaints” about the property’s upkeep.
Meredith paid the $150 application fee for the permit again in October, hoping for a different outcome. He presented a three-page petition filled with signatures of neighbors showing their support. In addition, 13 of his neighbors voiced their opinions that Meredith should be allowed to continue his business at the residence.
The two business owners, Larry Aldridge and Gary Ludlow, again voiced opposition.
Board member Ned Bradshaw made a motion to grant the conditional use, but the motion died due to lack of a second.
Board member Paul Lassanske, who is also Land of Lincoln Planning and Zoning commissioner, said the county’s zoning regulations do not permit an auto repair shop in the R1-A district. He made a motion to deny the request and the board agreed.
Jim Whitlow explained the appeal process through circuit court to Meredith.
However, after the meeting and before Meredith could start his appeal, board member Ralph Greer had second thoughts about his vote. The board later consulted with County Attorney Dale Morris who interpreted the regulations to mean “the conditional use permit allows anything deemed appropriate by the commission.”
Greer asked the board to revisit Meredith’s request Nov. 30.
At that meeting, Lassanske repeated his thoughts about the zoning regulations. However, he was the only member to vote against Meredith’s request.
“I don’t think this is appropriate for the neighborhood,” Lassanske said, adding the decision “set a terrible precedent.”
After the vote, board member Ned Bradshaw requested the board reimburse Meredith $150. Whitlow said that would not be appropriate, as Meredith had paid $300 for the two meetings when he applied for the permits. The board made the decision to renegotiate the issue for the third meeting at its own expense.
Lassanske noted the expense for the meeting – paying the board members and secretary for their attendance – was almost $500.
Meredith, who has worked on cars about 30 years, said after the meeting, he felt good about “being legal.”
He thinks the board was swayed by the support shown by his neighbors.
“I think most of Magnolia was there,” he said. “I thought there was a good chance I’d get it since they (the board) brought it up.”
He hopes to purchase the property he now rents from Tommy Melton.
When approving a conditional use permit, the board may set stipulations on the business, such as hours and noise control. Meredith’s conditions are hours of operation – 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m.-noon Saturday; no junk cars and proper disposal of hazardous waste.