Parking agreement during construction is given approval

Jan. 13, 2014 @ 10:09 PM

A lease agreement and expansion of a parking lot plus an accord on easements nearby are two finishing touches that will pave the way for builders to start work on a new performing arts center.

The Henderson City Council approved on Monday arrangements to lease the city-owned parking lot at the corner of South Chestnut and Breckenridge streets to the Embassy Cultural Center Foundation for one year.

The foundation will expand that lot to about double its size, and it will be designated mainly for library patrons while the Winder Street side of the library block is used by employees of Variety Wholesalers, Inc.

The Variety Wholesalers usual lot at the intersection of Winder and Wyche is where temporary easements will be in effect. The shifting of parking lot routines is necessary for construction to take place safely, according to City Attorney John Zollicoffer.

“This is the last item of development before the construction of the arts center can commence,” Zollicoffer said. “This is temporary, and we are very, very thankful that Variety Wholesalers has agreed to do this.”

Sidewalk and parking areas on Breckenridge Street across from the police station and around the corner onto Wyche Street are also designated for temporary abandonment as construction takes place.

Zollicoffer said safety concerns include possible hazards from construction debris near where the arts center structure is to go up.

“There were also some concerns about employee safety, walking at night,” Zollicoffer said.

City leaders noted an incentive for them to agree to the lease deal was the re-grading, paving and expansion of their parking lot on Chestnut. After the improvements are made for use until Jan. 31, 2015, they get the improved parking lot back.

The parking lot would also remain available for city employees of the police department and for general public parking.

Construction easements will remain in effect until completion of the McGregor Hall, or June 1, 2015, if construction lasts longer than anticipated.

A report to council members on Monday noted again that the foundation is not requesting city funds for the construction or operation of the performing arts center.

In other actions Monday, the council approved a new ordinance that requires various certificates and permits to have the same legal entity name following a discussion between council members and Erris Dunston, the city’s planning director.

Dunston said that the move to require uniformity of business entity names is a step to a comprehensively streamlined process in the issuing of required local documents.

A public hearing on the ordinance drew no comments for or against the proposed changes.

“We are dealing with situations in which different entity names are involved,” Dunston said. “It is usually the smaller mom-and-pop business that becomes a problem, not larger businesses. Some change hands and names fairly often.”

The new requirement is for businesses to use the same legal entity name on all their permits and certifications handled by city departments.

Council members expressed concern the city not charge more fees than is fair. For example, a fee would not be charged just to change the name on an otherwise valid permit.

Councilman James Kearney asked how many licenses are a problem compared to the number of documents overall.

“It is enough that we feel like we need some clarity on the issue,” Dunston said. “This would help us clean up, simplify and streamline our permitting process.”

“I don’t think that I should have to pay a new fee,” Kearney said. Waiving an added fee, “would encourage me to come in and make the changes.”

Dunston reported that city departments are involved with privilege license and alcohol permits as well as fire inspection certifications and zoning permits.

The ordinance requires a certificate of zoning compliance whenever a change in ownership, primary occupant or business operator of any structure takes place.

Secondly, all certifications, licenses, fire inspections and alcohol permits issued by departments are to be in the same legal entity name.

When privilege license taxes are issued under the ordinance, they also will bear the requirement that they be in the same legal entity name.

If an alcohol permit is issued for that business location in a different business entity name, it would not be valid. The business shall be noted by the city as not in compliance with the zoning requirement to have a proper ABC license.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.