By Deb Murphy
If there’s a moral to the Marty Williams and residents of North Street in Wilkerson tussle over a 41-unit storage facility, it’s try to avoid getting a Conditional Use Permit.
Here’s the deal: In early October, Williams appealed Inyo’s Planning Commission decision not to grant him a CUP on the parcel at the corner of North and Gerkin. The parcel is zoned C-2, allowing for commercial uses, but not storage facilities. An abandoned store sits on the land now.
After listening to a frustrated Williams and North Street residents who really didn’t want those storage units, the Inyo Board of Supervisors strongly suggested Williams, the locals and the Planning Department sit down and see if there was a way to make the project work.
Tuesday, they all came back to the Board still in a deadlock.
Senior Planner Steve Karamitros gave the Supervisors an update on the residents’ issues which they presented at the October 14 get-together. Of those 16 issues, some were not applicable, some already taken care and some Williams agreed to.
Williams submitted a revised site plan indicating more landscaping, a cedar fence along the North Street side, design elements on those storage containers unshielded by fencing on the Gerkin side and motion-sensing lights aimed away from homes.
Wilkerson residents still hated it. Tom Bacheldor pointed out a CUP required some benefit to the community—like using the lot for a fire station. Williams was perfectly willing to sell the lot for that use, but there was a question as to whether the Bishop Volunteer Fire Protection District would buy it.
The Board was torn, realizing Williams had made an effort to win over the locals. Supervisor Rick Pucci pointed out alternate, permitted uses for the site, all of which would impact neighbors with no opportunity for their input.
Supervisor Jeff Griffiths took a harder line. “The point of a CUP is to get input from the neighborhood,” he said. “That input is substantial, they don’t like it. My opinion doesn’t matter.”
“I think we need one more round” of discussions was Chair Dan Totheroh’s decision. Williams, residents and Karamitros were sent away to continue discussions for another hour.
By 1 p.m., the deal was sealed. Williams would install fencing around the entire perimeter and a gate with automatic locks and limit use from 7a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Board approved the CUP.