Interest offered on Chestnut property, new gas station to open

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     There seems to be interest in the former Hughes property, 224 N. Chestnut St., now owned by the City of Monticello.

     Tom Harmon, who resides next door at 234 N. Chestnut St., addressed the Monticello City Council during their Aug. 21 meeting concerning his potential plans for the parcel of land.

     “I am very interested in acquiring the property,” he told the council.

     The city has been advertising for RFPs (requests for proposals) from those who might be interested in building on the N. Chestnut lot.

     Harmon said living next to the property, he and his wife are looking ahead to the future and would like to add onto their home to bring the living quarters on one level.

     “We’d look to add a two-stall garage, bathroom and more on the south side of our house,” he said. “The backyard would be landscaped and seeded.”

     Harmon also spoke to the other neighbor, Pat Lambert, about their possible interest in purchasing the remaining garage that is still standing.

     Harmon asked the council how they plan to go about awarding bids or proposals for the property, suggesting an auction would be the best way to go about it.

     “I think that’s the fairest way to sell it for those who are interested,” he said.

     He also asked whether the city had a starting point in terms of the cost associated with the lot.

     “I’d like to have it at a fair price,” added Harmon.

     Council member Johnny Russ said the council is just looking, at this point, to see what the best fit might be for that property.

     “We want what would best for the neighborhood,” said Russ, “and to get as much taxable value out of the property.”

     While those items aren’t the most important, Russ said it also comes down to what looks attractive and fits within the area to help neighboring property values.

     “What you’re proposing is something we’d consider,” concluded Russ.

     City Administrator Doug Herman urged the council to consider all proposals as they come in, as well as the timing for construction and intended use. He said the council would also have to schedule a public hearing before accepting the proposal and awarding the bid.

     “It would be Sept. 21 before the council could potentially make a decision,” offered Herman.

     Romy Tej Pal Kapoor, the new owner of the gas station sitting at the intersection of Main Street and Oak Street/Highway 38, was present to address some nuisance issues associated with the property: gas pumps and a canopy that are in the right-of-way and a pole sign that is in violation of the city’s new sign ordinance. Herman said there are also some general cleanup issues as well around the property.

     “It sat empty for quite a while,” he said.

     Kapoor questioned why the pole sign is all of sudden an issue when it was permitted under the prior owner. Herman said it was grandfathered in before, but with new ownership and a potential change in the business name (Phillips 66), all signage must come into compliance.

     “You would need to apply for a special application with the city,” he said.

     The council voted to allow the pumps and canopy to remain in the ROW, knowing that without such, the business would cease to exist. They will allow Kapoor to keep the pole sign up for now, but directed him to visit with Planning and Zoning to address the sign issue. An agreement would also be drafted between the city and Kapoor that states should the business close down for a specified period of time, the pumps and canopy would have to be torn out.

     Kapoor, who’s already applied for his liquor license and in the process of securing a cigarette permit, said he hopes to be up and running “the family business” in the next couple of weeks or so.

     “It’ll be buzzing within the next two weeks,” he said.

     Mayor Dena Himes informed Kapoor that the council’s decision would not cause a delay in his opening.

     “You’ll be allowed to open,” he said.

In other city business:

     • The council is considering changes to the city’s yard waste policy and current drop-off site. Herman said it takes city employees two full days a week to pick up yard waste around town and take it to the dump site. He said perhaps the residents of Monticello could be better served hiring an outside, private contractor to manage a 2-acre dump site near the city sewer facility. Residents would be allowed to bring their yard waste to the site on their own time. The waste would then be turned into compost and mulch, free for residents to use. Herman said many small communities like Monticello are going this route.

     “We still need to investigate this further,” warned Herman, noting nothing has been finalized.

     Kaye Junion spoke out against the idea, saying as a senior citizen, she has no way to get her yard waste to a proposed site.

     “I don’t have a pickup to haul it and I won’t pay somebody to do it,” she said. She urged the council to consider the senior population with this decision.


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