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Residential use of auto shop gets approval

Medina's Auto Repair at 2400 Yakima Valley Highway in Sunnyside was granted the conditional use of converting a portion of its double-wide trailer office into a residential use.

The city of Sunnyside's Board of Adjustment made the decision last night, which allows the shop's owner, Esteban Medina, to have his brother-in-law, Julio Silva Mendoza, stay on the premises in an area that has general commercial zone designation.

In the proposal presented to the board, Medina explained that Mendoza is a full-time employee and would stay on premises to provide security for tools and vehicles at the repair shop.

Mendoza told the board that he is recently divorced and needs a place to stay.

Board member Chad Werkhoven questioned whether the residential use would be consistent with other businesses. Mike Storms, a city building inspector, noted there are other conditional residential uses in the city, such as at a market across from Les Schwab's at Lincoln Avenue and 16th Street.

Werkhoven also indicated concerns over new business developments slated for near the auto repair shop, stating that a residential use will be out of character with improvements planned for the area.

City Planner Jamey Ayling reminded the board they could require a periodic review of the conditional use permit, if granted.

The board approved Medina's application for a conditional use, but set conditions that included annual review of the use.

The most difficult condition is a requirement that Medina install curb, gutter and sidewalk in front of his property to bring it into compliance with residential use.

Board member Torchey Cohu told Medina that hiring a contractor to install curb, gutter and sidewalks could cost in the vicinity of $7,500 to $10,000.

After learning of the cost, Medina expressed hesitation at pursuing the residential use, even with the board's approval.

Medina has 12 months to take action on the conditional use approval. After that time, he would have to re-apply to the board.

Board approves rebuild

A home destroyed by fire within the last year can be replaced with one twice as large, the Sunnyside Board of Adjustment agreed last night.

Plans for the new home, to be built at 923 E. Lincoln Ave., include a basement.

City Planner Jamey Ayling noted that the home would not conflict with surrounding uses in the area, which is zoned general commercial.

Ayling told the board that a house lost to fire can be rebuilt without requiring a conditional use permit. The home rebuild proposed for E. Lincoln, he added, requires a conditional use permit because it exceeds the size of the original house.

The board approved the conditional use permit, noting that rebuilding the house after the fire will also serve to improve the general appearance of the area.

Duplex proposal turned down

by John Fannin

A proposal to convert a single-family home at 1108 S. First Street into a duplex was turned down yesterday by the Sunnyside Board of Adjustment.

Agustin Rodriguez presented the application on behalf of his parents, noting they needed rental income from the home to help supplement their retirement income of $620 per month.

The plan would have called for closing off the home's second floor and converting it into a duplex.

During public comment on the conditional use application, neighbor Sally Brittingham expressed concerns on additional traffic generated by the proposal for the home, located near the intersection of South First Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Another neighbor, Maple Way resident John Proffit, opposed the duplex proposal because of the message it might send to other home owners in the area.

"It starts with one duplex, then another," he said of the potential for a precedent setting move that could lead to other residents in the area seeking duplex conversions. "I didn't want to live next to a duplex or apartment when I invested my money into a home," he said.

Proffit also questioned whether the second floor met fire codes as a separate dwelling.

Rodriguez agreed that the proposed duplex would need construction upgrades to bring it up to code as a rental unit.

At the same time, he and his wife, Irene, made an emotional appeal for approval.

"We are both school teachers in Pasco and work on the house when we can," he said. Rodriguez said he and his wife have $110,000 in student loans, making it difficult to provide any financial assistance to his parents.

In addition, his parents have two home improvement loans on the house, making it difficult for them to pay the monthly mortgage.

Even so, board member Torchey Cohu noted, "I don't see any good reason to turn that into a duplex."

Chad Werkhoven, another board member, said the duplex proposal was not consistent with the city's duplex ordinance. "We need to think long into the future," Werkhoven said of long term impacts from a duplex near the Lincoln and South First area.

The board denied the conditional use application and Rodriguez has 14 days to appeal the decision to the Sunnyside City Council.

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