Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Palmdale Store Stuck In Legal Limbo

1929 Store On US27 Now Zoned Residential

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- At the Glades County Commission meeting Tuesday, Larry Taylor asked the commissioner to review his plan to reopen his wife's 1929 frame two-story building on U.S. 27 in Palmdale.

(photo courtesy of Jim Pike)

The building known at the Palmdale General Store has served as a general store, restaurant, and Post Office for decades. The building became a non-conforming use when the County instituted zoning and classified the property as Residential.

But the building has been vacant for many years and can no longer retain it's former commercial zoning.

Mr. Taylor explained he cannot make needed improvements to the building because of its non-conformity and if he tries to rezone it to Commercial, the set-back requirements will increase and then there won’t be room for the porch improvements between the building and the wider setback.

He says he proposes to restore the building back to its original purpose of a local country store but does not intend to sell alcoholic beverages or lottery tickets.

Mr. Taylor cited numerous issues with building permits and inspections on the repairs he has already made. He said the county tax bill has always reflected commercial assessment even though he has never operated a
business there since his wife bought it in 2007.

Palmdale resident Linda Skrine said that it is 16  miles to the nearest town and many residents of Palmdale are seniors or have low income and it is a hardship to make a 32 mile round trip for supplies. She said it would be really convenient for Palmdale to have the store and it could provide job opportunities and a place for teenagers to meet as well as seniors.

Dennis Howard of Palmdale seconded what Linda Skrine had said, that Palmdale needs the store, and the county could use the growth. Jean Martinez of Palmdale said she agreed with the others, that Palmdale needs the store, that some citizens can’t afford to drive that far and run to town every time they need something they may have forgotten to purchase.

Ruth Stambaugh of Palmdale said she agreed for the need for the store, that it would be nice to be able to pick up a few essentials. Larry Stambaugh of Palmdale agreed with previous statements about the store, that it needed to open.

Terry Maroney of Palmdale said the store would be an asset for the county, not just Palmdale as right now drivers going on US27 through Palmdale don’t stop and the business would benefit the county.

Commissioner Griffin deferred to Commissioner Beck as the Palmdale store is located in Beck’s commission district. Beck stated he had visited the store which had been there as long as Glades County had been a county and he liked Mr. Taylor’s project plans and thought variances could be given to allow Mr. Taylor to complete the store and open for business.

(photo courtesy of Bearden82)

Commissioners Griffin, Stanley and Storter all expressed interest and concern for the Palmdale citizens’ need for a retail store, the effect on local economy and tax revenue-both sales tax and ad valorem property taxes, and the delays Mr. Taylor has experienced in opening the store.

Community Development Director Hilton explained the matter of non-conforming use and why the building cannot be changed by enlarging its current footprint.

A Commercial building existing in a district that became zoned Residential which does not allow commercial, immediately becomes non-conforming but may continue in operation as long as the operation does not cease for more than 6 months. The county development ordinance does not allow expansion of a building that becomes non-conforming.

Hilton stated Mr. Taylor could open the store without making his proposed changes that enlarge the buildings footprint, and, he has the option of applying for a zoning change, and if new zoning setback changes affected the project, then he could apply for variances to make exceptions to the setback requirements.

Attorney Pringle cautioned the Board from expressing any position until such time the county’s adopted process in considered, which would mean the applicant would apply for rezoning, the application would be reviewed by staff, submitted to the Planning Commission, and then brought to the Board with their recommendations and the Board could then vote on approval or denial.

Property owner Marcia Taylor appeared before the Board and was told she could apply for the rezoning and the set-back variance at the same time, and if the zoning change is granted, then the variance to reducing the setback requirements could then be considered at the same meeting.

-from notes provided by Donna Storter Long

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