More than 50 semitrailers are parked on the site of the old Continental Inn, despite complaints to the city by neighbors and business owners who say the trailers are parked illegally and want the site cleaned up.
"Neighbors are upset in a major way," said Loys Mather, president of the Eastland Parkway Neighborhood Association. "It's being used as a truck terminal, there's no other way to describe it. And that's not allowed."
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Buddy Hoskinson, executive director of Spencerian College, whose campus adjoins the Continental Inn property, said the trailers block access to a portion of his property and pose a fire hazard.
"If we had a fire at this point," he said, "firetrucks could not get on our campus."
The semitrailers are owned by Emergency Disaster Serv ices, a Lexington company that converts them into mobile kitchens, living quarters and laundries. In an emergency such as a hurricane, cities and utility companies lease or purchase the units to house workers.
Businessman Jerry Lundergan is an owner of Emergency Disaster Services. He also is one of several owners of the 11-acre Continental Inn property, at New Circle Road and Eastland Parkway.
Lundergan said Friday that EDS sells and leases the semitrailers from the site, a use that's permitted on the property, which is zoned B-3 for highway service businesses.
Several trailers say "Lundy's, A Special Event Company" on the side. Lundergan owns Lundy's, and he said those trailers are parked there waiting to be retrofitted into emergency units.
City building inspector Jim Hume has inspected the site multiple times.
"We have been getting complaints from the neighbors for a year," he said Friday.
After talking to the property owners several times, "we pressured them into doing something, so they proposed a sales lot," Hume said.
However, there are no signs stating that trailers are for sale or lease, and there is no sales office or staff on site. "If it's a sales facility, their lot doesn't meet the requirements that would be necessary to do it," Hume said. "They're just real short."
In his assessment, the property is being used as a truck terminal. "That's our interpretation," he said. Zoning does not allow a truck terminal on the property.
"The problem has gotten so big, we are going for strict enforcement of the ordinance," Hume said. "We say it's a truck terminal."
He described the site as "a high-profile mess."
On Friday, the Board of Adjustment was set to review the case. EDS owners wanted the Board of Adjustment to determine whether the "sale and storage of semitrailers is permitted in a B-3 zone." Also, they asked for a ruling on whether the current use of the property qualifies as "the sales of semitrailers."
However, an attorney for the owners asked for a postponement. The case was rescheduled for the Dec. 12 meeting.
The Board of Adjustment's staff report — not formally presented, because of the postponement — upheld building inspection's findings. The report concluded the property is not being used as a sales and leasing facility.
Hume said he is meeting with a representative of the owners Tuesday.
"Whether they want to argue over the interpretation or they've come up with a different idea, I don't know," he said. "All I know is I was called to have a meeting with them Tuesday afternoon."
Neighbors and business people hope the case is resolved quickly, the semis moved and the site cleaned up.
Mike Harris, whose company manages Continental Square Apartments, across Eastland Parkway, said, "I can't understand why the city has allowed them to park those trailers there for so long if they're in violation of the law.
"Even if the trailers were not there, it's not a very pretty site," he said. The metal superstructure of one of the old Continental Inn buildings is still standing. "It's rusted and looks pretty bad."
Neighbor Ted Fraebel said the Eastland neighborhood association has worked to beautify the neighborhood.
"We spent a lot of money redoing the entrance on Winchester Road," he said. "We planted flowers at each corner of Eastland Parkway and today they're planting 21 street trees."
The corner where the trailers are parked "is a general eyesore," Fraebel said.