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City council considers request by new property owner

Regarding property used for lawn, landscaping business

Kevin R. Jenkins,

Over the course of two meetings held during the month of June, the Farmington City Council considered an application submitted by Jason Wood to allow him more time to make required changes to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) property at 713 Janey Drive.

While currently zoned as R3: Single Residential, the council voted in June 2020 to allow Farmington businessman Rafi Kthiri to temporarily run his lawn service business from the location.

A public hearing was held at the July 13 meeting at which Development Services Director Tim Porter gave an overview of Wood’s request.

Development Services Director Tim Porter points out the Planned Unit Development property at 713 Janey Drive, where a new owner wants to remove a clause the city council put in place at a June 22, 2000 meeting.

“Mr. Mayor, on June 22, 2020, the city council approved the ordinance for the planned unit development of Kthiri Place within the area defined on the plat,” Porter said. “A portion was designated for residential use and the remainder for temporary lawn care and landscaping business use only. The council also asked for a sunset clause that would expire that allowed its use for a landscaping business after five years. Also, if the landscape and lawn care use was suspended, the authority to operate said use was to be discontinued.”

According to Porter, the PUD also placed a restriction that employees could not park on the street and only in the areas designated for landscaping and lawn care use.

“The applicant, Jason Wood, purchased the property from Rafi Kthiri last year, I believe,” he said, “and he knew that this PUD had the provision, the sunset clause, in it. He is asking for the city council to amend the ordinance and allow a new plat with the language amended to reflect that without a sunset clause. I recommended that we clarify a deadline date of when operations were to cease. Planning and zoning recommended that it would expire after 60 days if the use of landscaping lawn care was ever to cease. It would be 60 days to either sell to a new owner or revert back to its previous use.”

Mayor Larry Forsythe asked Porter to give the councilors — many of whom weren’t serving on the council in June 2020 — a run-through of the agreement made between the city and Kthiri.

“In June of 2020, the council passed a PUD. So, this is a residential district, and in a residential district, this type of operation would not be allowed. The back story to that was there was an attempt by Mr. Kthiri, circa 2017, to open up a lawn care business there. He ended up being denied through the council at the time — denied a PUD and a rezoning request. He appealed to the Board of Adjustment, which is our appeal board for zoning decisions. His appeal was based on the definition of a landscape and lawn care business. He lost his appeal and was denied that right.

“He came back in 2020 and reapplied, asking for a PUD. Those stipulations were put in. The plat defines the area and what part was for the lawn care and landscaping business use only. This is the entire lot here. So, this side is designated for residential use. There used to be a house here — it’s been torn down. This side was for landscaping and lawn care. A little blurb of language on the document stipulated that the authority to operate the lawn care and landscaping business there expired after five years of this ordinance being passed by you all. So, that would have put it in 2025.”

Mayor Larry Forsythe discusses a request made by Jason Wood regarding property he bought from Farmington businessman Rafi Kthiri.

Porter said Wood was only asking to have the five-year clause removed.

A resident living at 17 Janey Drive commented that part of the original plan was to put up “a line of landscaping to block the view of the trailers and lawn care,” but that was never done.

“My recommendation is to give the new owner another five years to come forth with that promise,” the resident said. “If he doesn’t, or if he does it, then remove what’s on there now.”

Porter stated that there had been no shrubbery planted around the property as had been promised.

“And then [Kthiri] sold it,” he said. “Mr. Wood said his intent is to plant the trees, he just hasn’t done it. But you know, I think he’s waiting for the appropriate growing season to do that. He probably should have already done it.”

The resident continued, “That’s what Mr. Kthiri told me as well, but you can see that that never happened. So, that’s all I would ask is just to keep it as it is, give him another five years to make it right, and if he does, I’d be happy with the clause.”

The mayor asked the resident, “So, in 2025, you want us to go ahead with another five years just to make sure he takes care of his part of the bargain — or Rafi’s end of the bargain.”

The resident replied, “Yes.”

The mayor said he felt that was fair enough.

A second resident who lives at 718 Janey spoke to the council in opposition to the proposed change.

“All I knew was the sign went up and I figured y’all were wanting to rezone it, and I’m against it not being rezoned,” he said. “Some of the promises we were made were not followed through. I complained about the business that’s been there. They had been using the vacant lot where the house used to sit for parking, and they were accessing Janey Drive with trailers and rigs. They took down part of a fence so they could go from where the business was and yet utilize that lot, and I didn’t know if the city had approved that or whatever, but it wasn’t.”

The second resident was asked if he was speaking about the previous owner or the new owner.

“They quit doing it when the sign went up,” he said. “They started parking on the other side. So, I’m against it being turned non-residential, and my concern was I live right across the street where the access is.”

Porter stated again that there wasn’t going to be a rezoning of the property and that the only request made by Wood regarded the removal of the five-year clause.

The mayor stated his opinion that Wood needed to follow up on the promises that Kthiri made to the city.

“Mr. Wood, he needs to follow up Rafi’s deal because he bought all of that,” Forsythe said. “He bought these conditions. He bought the property. So, he needs to meet the conditions before we even, in my opinion, even consider it.”

A first reading was made of Wood’s application to remove the clause at the July 13 meeting, but at the following city council meeting held July 24, the council felt there were still a lot of answers that needed to be answered and so postponed a vote on the matter until its Oct. 23 meeting.

In other actions taken at the July 13 meeting, five resolutions were approved on various topics. They included the appointing of members to serve on various boards, commissions and committees, allowing the city to reimburse itself for certain capital expenditures, and authorizing the mayor to enter into and execute contracts with Brockmiller Construction, TH Properties, LLC., and ECC Controls.

In legislation, the amending of one municipal code regarding public health, safety and welfare and another amending the municipal code on utilities, sewers and extra strength discharge were approved. Additionally, first and second readings were held to approve and adopt the city’s Fiscal Year 2023 Operating Budget and to authorize all expenditures related to it.

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