Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
With a tentative agreement between Krumland Auto Group and nearby residents, the Roswell Planning and Zoning Commission gave its unanimous approval Tuesday to preliminary plats and a zoning change request by the auto dealer so it can proceed with planned construction projects estimated at $25 million.
However, the commission voted unanimously to hold off on voting on two other requests for zoning changes by the company until next month when it expects to consider the final plats. The delay could affect the amount of financing the company is able to receive, KAG owner and founder Tom Krumland said.
KAG requested approval on a preliminary plat to consolidate lots and adjust lot lines and change R-2 residential districts to C-2 community commercial districts in the 1900 and 2000 blocks of West Second Street. KAG plans to develop and finance a new Ford dealership in the 1900 block, which is the current location of its Hyundai dealership. A second zone change from residential to commercial is also requested for a construction project for the current Nissan dealership at 2111 W. Second St.
Another preliminary plat and zoning change request for the 2300 block of West Second would allow for the development and financing of a new Hyundai dealership.
Several residents across an alley to the north of the dealerships filed written protests with the city and spoke at Tuesday’s meeting. Neither of those who spoke said they are against the development itself.
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“We’re in favor of economic development,” Charles Currier said. “I have no objection to people making money. I want them to make a lot of money.
“In regards to this proposal, it affects us directly. What we’re talking about is a change in the property,” he said.
Community Development Director Kevin Maevers said correspondence received by the city from Currier and other residents is more about potential problems in the future if the property should be sold and fall under a different use.
Some of the lots are zoned as residential with special use permits for parking lots that were intended to act as a buffer between the commercial zones and the residential zones to the north, Maevers said.
“We took commercial land use and wedged it into a residentially zoned property using a special use permit, effectively negating the R-2 development requirements,” he said.
When that was done in 2003, it was considered good zoning, but Maevers said he believes that special use permit was an error.
What the city did at that time is what is now referred to as a transition zone, Maevers said. Transition zones allow for the change of one type of land use to another but still provide for development opportunities. What is needed instead is a buffer, or physical barriers between the different types of land uses, he said.
“A buffer is made up of physical components that go on the land. It is not a zone,” he said.
Those components include fencing, berms and landscaping that can help block sound and create an esthetically appealing appearance, along with building setback requirements.
“We need to provide mitigation measures that will create the buffer that will mitigate any negative impacts,” he said.
Maevers said he sketched out a proposal and discussed it with Krumland and Currier on Tuesday. The proposal contains five requirements for the developer to create that buffer. If the requirements are not met, the city will not issue a certificate of occupancy for the new construction, Maevers said.
According to the proposal, the developer will expand an existing 8-foot perimeter wall around the properties in the areas to be rezoned, plant trees in the rear of the property and provide additional flood protection with water retention areas.
The final part of the proposal is to include limited development rights in a 125-foot wide swath of land to allow further separation of the commercial property from the residential property. No primary structures would be allowed in that swath, although ancillary structures could be built. If the existing Nissan dealership is ever expanded, it will be required to have a similar swath of land.
The limited development rights requirement would transfer with any sale of the property, as well, Maevers said.
Currier said he and his wife were “preliminarily” withdrawing their protest based on the proposal.
“If the final plat carries forward with all those things, then I would say our preliminary withdrawal of our protest is a permanent withdrawal of our protest,” he said.
However, one of his neighbors, Hessel Yntema, questioned the commission’s authority to approve the zoning requests for the proposed Ford and current Nissan dealerships because at least 20% of property owners had protested. Under state statute, that 20% rule means the city council has to make the decision, Yntema said.
Yntema said he had practiced land-use law in Albuquerque and now teaches constitutional law at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia.
He also had concerns about the agreement proposed by Maevers.
“Something so complicated should not have been drafted in one day. I think it would behoove us all to approve the preliminary plat and then move this with a more settled mitigation measures agreement where we could then withdraw our protests formally next month,” he said.
Doing so would ensure the commission has the authority to approve the zoning requests because with the protests withdrawn, the 20% rule would not apply, he said. He urged the commission to not vote on the zoning requests concerning the planned Ford and current Nissan dealerships until January.
The commission voted 7-0 to postpone consideration of those two zoning changes until January. The third zoning change request for the Hyundai dealership was approved. Krumland said after the meeting he was a bit disappointed but the project will proceed.
“We already have people from Ford and Hyundai coming out to do an appraisal. Making that zoning change affects the appraisal price of what we’re going to do with that land. Without that we won’t obtain the amount of financing we need,” he said.
Krumland did say he was appreciative of the process his company has been through with the city and the residential neighbors.
“Everybody was very civil tonight and talked and had their points met. I appreciate that. We want to be good neighbors. We have always wanted to be good neighbors,” he said.
The construction is expected to take two years, he said.
Maevers and Mike Espiritu, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp., pointed out the economic benefits to the community from KAG’s project.
The automotive industry is expected in 2022 to recover to pre-COVID levels of revenue, Maevers said, which in Roswell was $251 million.
The construction is projected to cost $25 million and will bring in $1.8 million in gross receipts taxes, he said.
Maevers said the automotive industry as a whole is a net economic benefit to Roswell. Almost 50% of auto sales at Roswell dealers are sold to people who live outside of town, he said. He said other business sectors see a “bleed out” of revenue, with people from Roswell spending money outside of town.
Espiritu said in addition to the construction jobs the project will bring, when it’s completed KAG is expected to hire an additional 100 employees, adding $4 million to its annual payroll.
City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or email@example.com.