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MW council studies rezoning of former car lot

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By Alex Wimsatt

    MOUNT WASHINGTON - Last month the Bullitt County Joint Planning Commission recommended that a request to rezone a lot on the corner of old Bardstown Road and Highway 44 in downtown Mount Washington from B-2 Central Business to B-1 Highway Business be denied.

    The Mount Washington City Council, which has the final say with regard to zoning, took up the matter during its last regular meeting and decided to hold off on making a decision until after public comment could be gathered.

    Councilmembers voted to hold a public hearing during the Council’s first regular meeting in June.

    Bards-Wash, LLC requested the property be rezoned so Eric Hayden Motors, LLC, which is currently paying rent on the property, could operate an automotive body paint shop.

    The property’s current B-2 zoning doesn’t allow automotive repair on the site, so Bards-Wash, which owns the property, has requested the zoning be changed to B-1, which would allow automotive repair on site.

    Attorney John Wooldridge appealed to the council on behalf of Bards-Wash and Eric Hayden Motors, requesting members to approve the zone change.

    The rezoning request has sparked some controversy amid concerns that the property, which lies in the heart of Mount Washington’s downtown, could become an eyesore if it were classified as a highway business.

    Wooldridge addressed those concerns, explaining that his client planned to make extensive improvements to the existing structure, which is over half a century old.

    He told members that the building would not be radically changed, but his client would remodel the interior and improve the exterior.

    “We don’t want to tear it down,” Wooldridge said. “If it were used as a car lot today, it would be the same as years past.”

    Councilman Barry Armstrong stated that many people were concerned about the future use of the property if it were rezoned.

    Wooldridge responded by telling Council members that they could place certain restrictions on what the property could be used for if they decided to change the zoning.

    Councilman Larry Porter asked how the council could be certain that Eric Hayden would make the improvements he’s proposed. Hayden said he signed a lease stating that he would make the improvements.

    The Council had the opportunity to see architectural illustrations of what the property would look like after Hayden made the improvements he’s proposed.

    The public will be invited to comment on the proposed rezoning during the Council’s first regular meeting in June when the council will take further action.

    In other business:

    *The Council voted five to one in favor of an ordinance introduced by councilman Dale Walter to limit the amount of merit pay increase the mayor could give to individual employees.

    The action amended section 37.02 B of the Mount Washington Municipal Code, limiting merit pay increases for individual employees to $2,080 per fiscal year, which amounts to $1 an hour for full-time employees working 40 hours a week.

    Besides limiting the amount of merit increase the mayor could award, the Council’s action set a requirement that merit pay increases shall be accompanied by performance evaluations explaining reasons for the increases.

    The ordinance also requires that those merit employee evaluations be given to the Council for review if requested by Council members.

    With the new legislation in effect, the only way a city employee could receive a merit pay increase higher than $1 an hour is if the mayor makes a recommendation and the entire Council approves it.

    Councilman Barry Armstrong was the only member of the Council to vote “no” on the adoption of the ordinance.

    *Councilman Dale Walter recognized Bullitt East High School students who were selected to participate in the 2010 Governor’s Scholars Program.

    Walter acknowledged their achievements, explaining that of the 16 students selected from Bullitt County high schools, 10 of them were from BEHS.

    “Congratulations to all of them,” Walter said.

    *Councilman Garry Lawson wanted to publicly thank everyone involved with putting on the Spring Festival. He also wanted to acknowledge their hard work and success.

    "This was the biggest and best I’ve ever seen,” Lawson said.

    The next regular meeting of the Mount Washington City Council will be held on Monday, May 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the City Annex building on Branham Way.

    The public is invited to attend.