Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Bridgeport denies downtown auto sales amendment

Applicant can appeal


BRIDGEPORT – All seats were occupied at the regular monthly meeting of the Bridgeport City Council meeting last Wednesday, July 19, as city residents weighed in during a second public hearing over whether or not to allow an auto sales business to locate in the city’s downtown central business district.

Mario Martinez, who owns property at 1130 Columbia Avenue in the city’s central business district, advised the council last January that he wants to put an auto sales operation there. The current Bridgeport Municipal Code (BMC) does not permit that use, but does allow it at other locations outside the downtown core. Martinez filed an application with the city for a zoning code amendment to allow his type of business downtown.

The council did not approve the planning commission’s recommendation to deny the amendment at the first public hearing held May 17. The council referred the matter back to the planning commission to draft an annual renewable conditional use permit (CUP) for a second public hearing. During that interim the city received letters and petitions that supported or opposed the proposition.

City planner Kurt Danison reviewed the previous proceedings leading up to the second hearing.

City clerk/treasurer Judy Brown read each petition and letter at the hearing.

            • A petition with 92 signatures supporting the CUP.

            • A petition with 38 signatures opposing the CUP.

            • A petition with 16 signatures opposing the CUP.

            • A petition with 4 signatures opposing the CUP.

            • Two letters from residents opposing the CUP.

City attorney Julie Norton also submitted questions and clarifications including a new code section related to the CUP.

Testimony from the audience included:

            • Daniel Ortiz said the business would work with any CUP conditions the city requests and that the intent is to bring more business to the community.

            • Mario Martinez said he was confused by those who claim to want business to come to Bridgeport yet do not support the auto sales or patronize local businesses.

            • Meredith Spencer said all the people she has spoken to oppose having an auto sales business in the downtown core because the city has other locations more suitable.

            • Liz Jenkins said the proposed change goes against the community revitalization plan.

            • Ken Krugel said the original idea of the central business was for foot traffic and that an attempt to locate a gas station there was denied years ago. He also cited a BMC provision that requires all materials, equipment, or product must be located inside a building or behind a screening wall.

            • Juan Torres, speaking in support of auto sales, said the business would never have more than four cars and a repair shop would be located off-site on Bridgeport Bar.

Danison said the council had three options:

  1. Deny the amendment.
  2. Accept the planning commission’s recommendation as modified which would result in the code being changed.
  3. Make any changes to the amendment per council’s request.

Council member Mike Bjornstad’s motion to accept the planning commission’s original recommendation to deny the amendment was seconded and approved with one dissenting vote.

After the council’s decision is published Martinez has 14-2 days to appeal the council’s decision to the Douglas County Superior Court.


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