There were two big items discussed at tonight’s committee meetings. My notes are posted below:
AUTO SALES – We discussed a proposal to allow auto dealerships in all parcels zoned C3 and C4. Currently, they are allowed only in C5. This proposal was raised by RLM Darrow, LLC, which owns Marhofer Chevrolet.
For those of you who don’t understand zoning and its connection with U.S. constitutional law, I’ll provide a quick synopsis. … Cities are allowed under the U.S. constitution to use zoning for city planning, but there are limitations. Chief among them: Generally, through zoning, the government cannot prohibit a property owner from conducting the commercial activity that it conducted on the property prior to the legislation.
I’ll use a drastic example: We can’t rezone Commerce Drive as “residential” and force the businesses there to shutter up. Beyond the lunacy of such an idea, it unconstitutionally deprives the businesses of property rights without just compensation. It also offends constitutional notions of due process. (If you want a deeper knowledge, read pp. 1223-60 of this article in the New York University Law, but please note I vehemently disagree with the article’s ultimate conclusion).
Although the city can’t just legislate someone out of business, that protection disappears if the pre-existing use is paused, or if the owner needs to rebuild due to calamity or renovation. Also, commercial lenders will sweat bullets if they learn such a contingency is out there. And I presume that is why RLM Darrow, LLC needs auto sales to be permitted on its parcel.
Please note, this is a separate matter from the re-zoning of three parcels that are adjacent to the dealership. That is not on the table now, and it might never be.
It’s also important to note that the legislation does not . . .