U-Haul dealer approved for downtown

Published 7:58 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Bainbridge City Council voted to allow an entrepreneur to open a U-Haul rental business on N. Broad Street in downtown Bainbridge.

Council members Luther Conyers, Joe Sweet and Glennie Bench voted in favor of allowing the U-Haul business as a conditional use of the property at 311 N. Broad Street, located in the city’s Central Business District. The request was made by Tripolie and Stanley Wells, who purchased the property on Jan. 1.

Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer, who voted against granting a conditional use, said she had two issues with the business’ request.

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First, Palmer said she had seen trucks and trailers parked on the property before the business had received permission from the City Council to operate in the central business district. On U-Haul’s Web site, uhaul.com, Wells Enterprises was already listed as a dealer and three customers had already left feedback, as early as February 2.

Second, Palmer said she did not believe a U-Haul rental business was compatible with the intended purpose of the CBD. The councilwoman said she believed the trucks’ familiar bright orange paint detracted from the appearance of downtown Bainbridge and added her opinion that the trucks could potentially be a hazard to pedestrians.

The Planning Commission had previously recommended approval of the conditional use at its Feb. 12 meeting.

Commission Chairman Frank Flowers also shared concerns about how the business’ appearance might fit in with the downtown business district. Flowers also pointed out traffic and parking issues along Broad Street.

Assistant City Manager Roy Oliver spoke at the Planning Commission meeting and noted that per the city’s zoning ordinance, a U-Haul business was considered an automotive establishment and therefore, vehicles must be able to circulate through the driveway. Oliver stated that by his reckoning, the property is only large enough to accommodate about three vans and four trailers and still keep both the driveways open.

However, Stanley Wells told the City Council he had painted parking spaces for customers and said he could “manipulate how many trucks/trailers kept on the property at any given time” to abide by the city’s zoning ordinance.


Former city planner appointed to Planning Commission

Among other business, the City Council unanimously voted to appoint Dustin Dowdy to the Bainbridge Planning Commission, to fill the seat formerly held by contractor Eddie Brinson, who recently resigned from the board.

Dowdy formerly served as the city’s Planning and Zoning Administrator and held the role of Assistant City Manager before leaving in 2012 to work for Flint Media, his family’s telecommunications business.

The Planning Commission is a volunteer, citizen-based board which makes recommendations to the City Council on zoning matters and also serves as the city’s zoning variance committee. The commission is currently chaired by optometrist Frank Flowers; City Councilman Luther Conyers is an ex-officio member.