A moratorium until April 30 on building permits for a section of Versailles Road between Halls Lane and Oxford Circle was approved by the Urban County Council on Thursday.
But the moratorium would not stop the construction of a controversial gas station and convenience store at 1419 Versailles Road, which neighbors had strongly opposed.
The council voted 11-2 to approve the moratorium. The building permit for the gas station was issued earlier Thursday, before the council took its vote.
The moratorium will allow the city to look at the area and determine whether other parcels were zoned correctly, said Councilwoman Peggy Henson, whose district includes Versailles Road.
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Neighbors had asked for the moratorium to stop the construction of the gas station, which is in a B-1 zone. Two apartment buildings have been on the property since 1935. Neighbors say the business zone designation was a mistake, and two area plans for that section of Versailles Road don’t call for more gas stations. The plans call for more affordable housing.
“There are seven gas stations within 2 miles on Versailles Road,” said Paula Singer, who lives nearby. “This important intersection of our gateway corridor, the entrance to a well-established neighborhood, is too important to allow haphazard, unwanted and unneeded development.”
A lawyer for Taylormade Real Estate, which owns the property and plans to lease it to Clark’s Pump N Shop for a Marathon gas station and convenience store, said earlier this week his client has spent more than $600,000 tearing down two apartment buildings. It entered into contracts with Clark’s based on the understanding that the parcel was correctly zoned for a gas station.
Doug Martin, a lawyer for Taylormade, said this week his clients have followed the rules. The zoning for the parcel allowed for a gas station. Martin, who spoke at a Tuesday council work session, said that if the council approved the moratorium before his client received his building permit, it wouldn’t be fair.
“It’s like Lucy pulling out the football from Charlie Brown,” Martin said.
Henson asked for the moratorium on building permits so the council could consider changing the zoning for the parcel. Henson said she thought the B-1 zone was a mistake.
“The gas station would be the last thing that the neighbors would want,” Henson said. “I feel like this slipped up on us.”
Last year, the Urban County Planning Commission approved a zone change for land across Delmont Drive from 1419 Versailles Road. As part of that zone change, the commission agreed to prohibit gas stations on that property, Singer said.
That application was filed by Taylormade, but no building has occurred on that site, Singer said.
“I believe this moratorium will give us time to come up with a good plan for the area,” Henson said during Thursday’s meeting and before the vote. “I am really, really sorry that this is the way it’s turned out.”
The proposed moratorium would not halt an expansion of the Hope Center women’s recovery center for alcohol and drug addiction on Versailles Road.
Walter May, special projects manager for the Hope Center, said the planned renovation and expansion would add 20 much-needed beds and expand the cafeteria. Construction was scheduled to begin in early March. The Hope Center’s building permit was pending.
The moratorium applies only to new building permit applications, Vice Mayor Steve Kay said.