Greenland City Council denies waiver for restaurateur
by Northwest Arkansas Times
owner of a burnt-out building in Greenland who wants to reopen a Mexican restaurant sought some relief Wednesday night from the City Council. He did not get it.
The building, formerly Los Reyes Mexican Restaurant, was damaged during an electrical fire that gutted it in October.
When owner Jose Mariscal went to get a business license and building permit to fix the place and reopen the restaurant, he was told he could not do it. He had leased out the building prior to the fire, and there is a business license in the tenant's name that is good through 2009. That does not help Mariscal, who is under the city's commercial moratorium.
Mariscal's lawyer, Rita Hempen of Fayetteville, pleaded with the Greenland council Wednesday night to grant Mariscal a waiver of the moratorium so he can rebuild and reopen.
In not granting the waiver, the council cited pending litigation and its efforts to be consistent with keeping commercial and residential moratoriums on development in place until new master land use and street plans are completed and approved.
The pending litigation involves Greenland Properties, which owns a parcel at Wilson Street and Lillie Lane near Interstate 540. The company is suing the city on claims that the City Council "improperly extended a development moratorium for 90 days"on April 14 and prevented the company from selling its land to Love's Travel Shops & Country Stores for a truck stop.
Council members indicated earlier Wednesday night that approvals of the master land use and street plans and the lifting of the moratoriums will occur at the Aug. 11 meeting.
Despite it being just a month from happening, Hempen asked that Mariscal receive help Wednesday night.
"Since November, he has been deprived of any income from that property," she told the council.
She said the city's new master land use and street plans will not affect what the property is.
"It's been zoned commercial forever," she said.
Mariscal has previously asked for an exception to the commercial moratorium but has been denied based on the advice of City Attorney Danny Wright.
Wright advised the council again Wednesday to either not allow the waiver or to get rid of the moratorium altogether.
"If you're going to do something, just do away with the moratorium," he said.
Alderman Bill Groom said it would affect the lawsuit to allow the waiver now.
"It is what it is. It is a mess," he said.
Alderman Lisa Thornton made a motion to deny the waiver, and it was approved by the council unanimously.