GRANDVIEW - Members of the Grandview City Council have spent nearly two weeks trying to decide the fate of a 200 foot by 20 foot piece of property along Wine Country Road. After last night's city council meeting, it will be at least another three weeks before a final decision is expected to be made.
The property in question runs alongside Grandview's Dairy Queen, which is located on the corner of Wine Country Road and West Main Street. Ken Herber, owner of the local business, is interested in expanding, but needs the city's right-of-way in order to do it.
This isn't the first time Council members have looked at the proposal to vacate the right-of-way along Herber's property. During its first meeting in May the council reviewed the request. At that time, the city's engineer, Bill Huibregtse of Huibregtse, Louman Associates Inc., told council members that he recommended the city not vacate the property. He noted that Wine Country Road is the city's primary arterial street and that he felt it was important for the city to maintain possession of the right-of-way along the road. Herber was not present at the May 2 meeting.
Last night, Herber said his plans for expansion call for the refurbishing of both the inside and the outside of the building. He said he plans to use the extra room he will gain by expanding out to the east and north for additional seating and public restrooms.
When asked if there was any other way he could expand his business if the right-of-way request wasn't granted, Herber said he has spent 20 years on the property looking at different options and this appeared to be one of the only viable ways to expand.
Herber told Council that when improvements were recently made to Wine Country Road, which included the addition of a center turn lane, he was told that once the project was completed the right-of-way would be vacated to the adjacent property owners along the section of road. He noted that since work started on Wine Country Road he has been working on his plans to expand the business.
Herber said once the project was complete he waited for the city to make the move to vacate the property, which is when he talked to City Administrator Jim Sewell. Herber said that's when he learned that it was going to be up to the individual property owners to contact the city and request a vacation.
Mayor Norm Childress added that the city has several different options when it comes to the right-of-way in question. He said the city can either vacate it, sell it at fair market value or opt to retain it.
Childress said he understood Herber's desire to expand his business, but he explained that the city also has to look at future expansion.
"It also hampers city expansion," Childress said of vacating the right-of-way.
Herber said he would like to remodel the Grandview store, explaining that pretty soon corporate Dairy Queen is going to be demanding more from him.
"Another options is I go to Sunnyside," Herber said, adding that it would be the more expensive option.
Councilman Rick McLean said he felt that the question of whether or not to vacate the right-of-way along that section of Wine Country Road is one of the most difficult he has faced since he was elected to council.
Adding to the difficulty of the decision is that whatever Council decides on this right-of-way issue will likely set a precedent for other properties along Wine Country Road, Childress said.
McLean said he was interested in tabling the topic again, as it was during the council's May 2 meeting, to hear more from city staff and learn about the city's different options.
"This is a very difficult situation for me," McLean said.
Childress added that he thinks it's important for the city to be pro-business.
Councilwoman Pam Horner noted that if the city decided one day to exercise its right to the 20 feet of right-of-way that sits on either side of Wine Country Road, Dairy Queen isn't the only business that would be effected. She explained that for most of the businesses located along the city's corridor that 20 feet of property would bring the road literally right up to their front doors.
"Realistically are we ever going to do that?," Horner asked.
Council will revisit the issue of vacating the right-of-way that runs along Herber's property during its June 6 meeting. Childress said at that time he would like to have all of the information laid out in front of him, from what the fair market value of the property would be to any other options the city has available to it in this situation.