Regarding the "parking disaster" around the new Coke plant development caused directly by Paducah's planning department, I wish to make an observation. Approximately seven years ago a local businessman who owned the property and an investor from California were proposing an Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant and a small retail mall for the building. At the time the Coke complex included 1.35 acres adjacent to Jefferson, 32nd Street, and LaBell Avenue, part of the property purchased by Independence Bank. The Spaghetti Factory development proposed 136 parking spaces on that property along with approximately 30 spaces parallel to the railroad embankment on the northeast side of the Coke plant.
The Coke plant building has 60,200 square foot total on all floors for development (I have the original 1938 "blueprints" of the building). The Spaghetti Factory restaurant was 300 seats, requiring 100 parking spaces and 15 employee spaces. The 166 spaces were still slightly shy because the remaining 51 spaces did not provide all the required parking for the available retail area in the building, but the former Albritton's and Gulf station properties were available for purchase negotiation.
One of the responsibilities of a planning authority is to prepare contingencies for future anticipated development to avoid the very chaos that Paducah's planning department caused by waiving the parking requirement in this case. Also, the Coke plant developer saved approximately $500,00 to $550,000 for purchase and construction of parking and stormwater retention that every other developer has to provide by ordinance.
A planning department has no authority to prohibit the sale of property, but they have the responsibility to inform property owners of future complications if property is divided. In this case the planning department knew in advance the complications of a 60,000 square foot building development without any onsite parking potential. I would hope the new city government would review and take leadership in how several city departments have been operating.
In the late 1970s there was a somewhat controversial Paducah department head for whom I had great respect, "for he was equally 'unfair' to everyone," including Bob Green, requiring the Executive Inn follow all life safety code requirements without exception.
NICK L. WARREN