Commercial contention: City council approves rezone on 1st reading

The new owners of this home at 1305 E. California St. are requesting the home to be rezoned commercial so they can convert the home into an office.

Members of the Gainesville City Council denied a rezoning request Tuesday evening, June 2, which would’ve allowed a longtime local business to relocate to a larger facility.

The request by Krahl Real Estate LLC was to rezone property at 1305 E. California St. from Single-Family Two District (SF-2) zoning to General Commercial district (C-2) zoning, according to information provided to council members.

The city initially listed the wrong code with the single-family classification but made the correction for Tuesday’s meeting.

This was the second time the item came before council. The first reading of the ordinance was May 19. At that meeting, Damian Krahl, with Schumacher & Krahl PC, said the firm hoped to relocate its business to the California Street location. Currently, the accounting office is at 1105 Olive St.

Krahl said his office has been at the Olive Street location since 1993 and the firm needs more room to expand. He said they are “completely out of room.”

Including himself, five employees work at the accounting firm, Krahl said at the May 19 meeting, adding his son is planning on joining the staff.

Neighbors protested May 19 and again Tuesday evening. Bernie Gordon, former Ward 2 Councilman Steve Gordon, Edna Shauf, Michael Blank and Connie Lancaster spoke against the zoning change Tuesday during public comments, city information shows.

Krahl said a deed restriction was obtained from an attorney after the May 19 meeting to attach to the property to keep it either a residence or a professional office building.

“I’ve heard repeatedly it’s not us, it’s who’s coming after us,” Krahl said. “So I thought I solved their problems with this here.”

At the May meeting, neighbors expressed concerns about what would happen to the property after the accounting firm left.

Krahl said he understands the deed would require money spent toward legal fees to enforce it so he suggested council table their vote and allow him to go back to the Planning and Zoning Commission and apply for a C-1 zoning classification.

“That way the city can regulate it and it wouldn’t be up to the citizens to do it,” Krahl said.

He also explained parking would be in the back of the property and any signage for the business would be “very nice” and in compliance with city regulations.

Before the vote, council members discussed Krahl’s options and asked if Krahl could still come back and request a different zoning change.

Community Development Director Calvin Manuel told the Register that a request for C-1 could be made and since it’s a different zoning request, Krahl would not need to wait a year to apply.

Manuel said the major difference between the two commercial districts are the allowed uses.

“C-1 is a restricted commercial district as opposed to C-2 which is a general commercial district,” he said via email. “The uses in C-1 generally are more restrictive towards sale of merchandise (retail uses), and uses that would require outdoor display. C-2 allows moderate outdoor display, and allows most retail/merchandising uses.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, it was also made known that a petition from Bernie Gordon had four signatures from property owners within 200 feet of 1305 E. California St. Information provided by the city shows there are 12 property owners within 200 feet of the property in question. City code requires 20% of the property owners within 200 feet to protest the zone change to require a three-fourths majority vote and there were 30%, the information states. One of the signatures was from Aubrey Eberhart, who is listed along with the area’s councilman, Brandon Eberhart, as owning one of the homes in that area.

City Manager Barry Sullivan told council they could table their vote and ask the P&Z to reexamine the case to not “kill the whole process.”

“I don’t know if that changes anything,” Mayor Jim Goldsworthy said.

Tuesday’s vote to reject the zoning request was unanimous. Ward 2 Councilman Brandon Eberhart abstained because he lives on California Street.

Linda Schumacher, Krahl’s business partner and part owner of the California Street home, said Wednesday, June 3, that they plan on applying for a C-1 zoning classification.

Nothing had been filed with the city as of 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, according to Manuel.

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