A planned new office location for Grace Health in Pineville could be in jeopardy due to the parking lot for the facility being located in an area zoned for only residential properties. The matter was discussed in detail at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Back in May the council approved closing an alleyway off Tennessee Avenue and in June the declared that area as surplus city property and sold it to Colby Slusher. Slusher sold that land along with the old NAPA building and Dairy Mart property to Grace Health where they plan to build a new medical facility.

Monday, Mayor Scott Madon explained that in the meantime  Grace Health had purchased two addition residential properties that they plan to raise to make room for parking. He and the city became aware of the situation after receiving complaints from neighboring home owners.

“I’m 100-percent for this project. If I wasn’t I wouldn’t have made the recommendation for the city council to close that alley,” Madon said.

 “I have yet to have any conversations with Grace Health. I have intentionally stayed away from the situation because the rumor mill is flying that they could be wanting to put a parking lot on a piece of property that was purchased. . . My only stance is that I will enforce the city ordinances to their fullest extent on any construction or expansion.”

“I owe the neighbors an apology because I didn’t do my due diligence. I should have called (Grace) and asked them about their plans instead of just accepting it,” Madon added. “I never dreamed they were talking about a piece of property in a residential section that they were going to try to make a parking lot out of.”

He said the city cannot keep people from buying homes and tearing them down but through the ordinances and zoning in place the city can prevent certain things from going in.

The next step for Grace Health is to apply to the variance board and state their case.

“If the variance board approves it, then the neighborhood folks around there would have recourse to sue the city or the board,” Madon said. “If they deny it, it could be appealed to Circuit Court and I would think in the court of law city ordinances and KRS statutes would have to be followed, but I’m not a lawyer.”

He said Grace could also petition the city’s planning and zoning committee. If they approved a zoning change, the city council would also have to approve it. If they deny making a change any appeal would also go to Circuit Court.

Council member Tuck Woolum asked if there was any difference for the school adding a parking lot.

Madon said the school has talked about moving their daycare and playground and putting a parking lot at the current playground site. “It has been asked,’ Why would let the school do that and two blocks away not let this business do it?’” Madon said. “There is language in the ordinance that gives the variance board leeway for schools, churches and various things. But they still have to apply for a variance and the homeowners around that lot will be able to come to the variance meeting and let their feelings be known.”

Madon said the city always tries to be business-friendly, “but if we don’t enforce our zones and  codes big businesses and non-profits will buy up all of your property. There’s three pieces of property we’re going to lose right now that we be won’t be getting tax dollars for because they are a non-profit. They’re definitely bringing a good service but if you continue to let that happen you’ll lose your tax base and won’t have homes in Pineville.”

Madon again said that he was in favor of the project as long as it meets all of the city’s codes.

“If the neighbors in that area were all for it, I would probably jump in and try to lobby for it,” he said. “But they’re not. I’ve not had one neighbor in that area that has told me they’re happy about it.”

Colby Slusher was in attendance at Monday’s meeting and told the council that he had no knowledge that Grace Health was planning to use the residential properties for a parking lot when he first approached the council about closing the alleyway.

“I am not an employee of Grace, I am not affiliated with Grace and I don’t represent Grace,” he said. “I simply took two pieces of property that were dilapidated and needed to be torn down and developed. . . I was approached, and at the time I didn’t even know it was Grace, and was offered an amount for two pieces of property.

“I don’t like to sell property, but I was happy that something was coming to Pineville and someone was going to invest millions of dollars in their facilities.”

After more discussion about the situation, Madon said he would have city attorney John Gambrel write a letter to Grace to ask about their exact plans are and to let them know the steps they would have to follow to build a parking lot.

In a separate matter, the council approved the second reading of an Amendment to

Ordinance NO 33.40 Determination of Expenditures to reflect the changes in KRS 424.260.  State law changed to allow cities to make purchases of up to $30,000 without having to advertise for bids and the amendment reflects that change.

Council member Alicia Slusher said she had looked into the law and said cities were could choose to keep advertising for bids for any purchase over $10,000.

Council member Shawn Fugate suggested a compromise of not advertising for bids, but to have council approval for any purchase over $10,000.

Madon said it only applied to items that were already included in the city’s budget and not having to advertise for bids saved the city money while he could still call around for verbal bids.

Slusher, Fugate and Bobby Valentine voted no to the second reading of the amendment while Woolum, Scott Jeffrey and Ben Madon voted yes. Mayor Madon then voted yes with the tie-breaking vote.

Also approved on Monday:

The first reading of an Amendment to the City Code of Ordinances Chapter 72: Parking Regulations to omit the city ordinances of 72.062 monthly parking permits. The parking permits pertained to the parking ordinances set when there was a public parking lot behind the Total Care. The amendment strikes the parking permit sections from the ordinances.

A resolution relating to the Cumberland Valley Multi-Jurisdictional Multi Hazard Mitigation Plan for the City of Pineville was passed.

The closing of an alleyway between Oak Street and Walnut Street per the request of the adjacent property owners Colby Slusher, Allan Hurd and James Billingsley. The owners were made known that the gas company has an easement for the property and may need to do future work in that area. The will have to be appraised and surveyed and the owners will decide who is getting what land.

Madon shared that workers from the Water Company and Street Department have built a larger star on Pine Mountain that will be unveiled during next Sunday’s for the Lighting of the Star and Tree Lighting Ceremony. The new star has 16 foot arms and will be set 40 foot higher so it will be visible from all of Pineville.

Main Street Pineville is hosting The Barter Players Presents “Frosty” at the Bell Theater which can be seen December 12th at 6pm. All age general admission tickets can be purchased on www.eventbrite.com for $10 each.

December 10 there will be a Golf Card Parade and Interact Club Christmas.

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