Neighbors of Klaben speak out against lot

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

A proposed rezoning of three acres of vacant land to pave the way for a parking lot for a Kent car dealership drew the ire of neighbors Tuesday. The neighbors told the Kent Planning Commission they feared the lot would send even more unwanted water and noise into their neighborhood. However, the commission recommended Kent City Council rezone the property, saying the residents' concerns would be better addressed when plans are reviewed for the lot. The city of Kent owns the three-acre parcel north of West Main Street, east of Admore Drive and adjacent to Klaben Ford. The city is asking the zoning of the property be changed from open space conservation to intensive commercial-residential. The zoning change is a condition of the purchase agreement between the city and Al Klaben, who plans to put a parking lot on the property to serve his car dealership. Tim Assaf, the attorney representing Klaben, said because there are several underground utility easements, the property would be difficult to develop for anything other than a parking lot. Several surrounding parcels carry the same commercial residential zoning. William Matt, however, said he has been living near the property for 50 years, and sees water flow in his back yard and in the property in question after any heavy rain. He said he is concerned even a parking lot would force more water into his yard. "If we get El Nino, we're going to have the biggest flood you've ever seen," he said. Todd Gavriloff said his property is the lowest in the area and is under water now. "You can't even get a tractor down there," he said, also questioning if Klaben would use the property for employee parking or to display cars for sale. "It's a beautiful area, and I don't know how making it a parking lot is going to improve anything," he said. "I'm going to have huge spotlights blaring into my living room. Are we going to have to put up with the noise from the loudspeakers?. . . My property is going to be lower than all the others, and I am going to catch all the water." Assaf said it is unlikely the entire parcel will be paved. Employee parking is the primary concern, he said. It is unknown whether there will be any extra space to store additional cars from the dealership's inventory. The commission voted 3 to 1 to recommend the zoning change to city council. Chairman Thomas Walter said the planning commission may require on-site water retention if the zoning change goes through and Klaben comes back for site plan approval. "When the Klabens return for site plan approval, we will look carefully to see that all the things you mentioned are considered," Commission member Ralph Sinistro told the residents. The lone dissenting vote came from commission member George Donoghue, who said he would like to see an ecological study done to ensure the property would not be harmed by any of the uses permitted in a commercial-residential district. In other business, the commission approved plans for Ravens Metal Products to construct an additional manufacturing facility on its property on Fairchild Avenue. Company CEO Jerry Pollock said the expansion will allow him to expand his work force to 200 people and will enable the company to construct two new types of trailers. It also will save time because the larger building will be able to accommodate longer lengths of aluminum. "I think you've been an asset to the community," Walter said.

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