Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TOP STORY > >Developer: City biased against him

Leader staff writer

The attorney for Win Knight, the entrepreneur who has been issued a private-club liquor license in Ward, says since his client got state approval to serve alcohol in the restaurant he intends to build, the city has made it difficult for other projects to move forward.

“Beforehand, he didn’t have to have an attorney to go down there with him,” Steve Underwood said after a Monday night council meeting where two of Knight’s projects were discussed. “Everything was just a walk-through.”

Underwood said he is building a discrimination case against the city, which he says is clearly prejudiced against his client.
Knight’s approval for the private-club liquor license has been appealed to circuit court.

Knight attended the Monday night meeting where an RV park and apartment complex he intends to build were on the agenda. So did Underwood and a court reporter who recorded the part of the meeting that pertained to Knight.

But the battle Underwood anticipated over the six-apartment complex for the elderly and disabled at 299 Edmondson that has been before the city since July didn’t materialize. The council approved it with a 4-2 vote.

But the council turned down the RV park that Knight intends to build behind Dude’s Place, also known as 38 Special, by a vote of 4-2. Charles Gastineau, the most vocal of the opponents to the park, said although there are no state regulations about the number of parking spaces per acre, the industry standards that he pulled from the Internet say no more than 10 per acre.

Knight’s plans call for 13 and he is not willing to change the plan.

Underwood and Tim Lemons, the project engineer, asked the council to approve the plan since nothing could be built until the state Health Department approved it anyway.

Underwood said Tuesday morning the RV park will be built without city approval.

The city has no regulations covering RV parks, he said. And since the land is already zoned commercial, there is nothing to prevent the project from moving forward if the state approves it.

“If we satisfy the Health Department, can they really stop us?” he asked.