Commission approves lumber sales at DIY center
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – “Lumbering” is typically used to describe the pace of decision-making in the Lake Tahoe Basin, not the decisions themselves.
But the South Lake Tahoe Planning Commission approved a special use permit Thursday afternoon that will allow the Do It Yourself Home Center to add lumber to its inventory.
The approval changes the city’s classification of the store from “General Merchandise” to “Building Materials and Hardware” and is the latest move in a two-year battle surrounding the business, which is located at the old South Shore Motors building at 1875 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
In June 2009, following protests from South Shore hardware store owners, the city council denied a similar special use permit that would have allowed lumber sales at the center.
Some council members said they based their decision on a city code requiring businesses receiving special use permits to be “necessary and desirable.” How many hardware store’s are needed at the South Shore was a persistent theme in the debate surrounding the center.
The council did approve a “General Merchandise” permit for the store in September 2009. The permit did not allow lumber sales.
Project applicants who are denied are allowed to re-apply after one year, said Judy Finn, assistant planner for South Lake Tahoe.
Robert Cosmi, the owner of Scotty’s Hardware near the “Y,” has been the most vocal critic of the home center.
On Thursday, he asked the planning commission what has changed since the city council’s denial of the special use permit in June 2009.
He said the question of whether lumber sales at the center are “necessary and desirable” remains, especially given the lack of an economic recovery at the South Shore.
Planning Commissioners disagreed, giving unanimous approval to the special use permit for the center.
Commissioner Michael Berg said he did not expect the home center to compete with Meek’s Lumber and Hardware, the only other South Shore business to offer lumber.
The home center targets homeowners, while Meek’s is geared towards commercial contractors, Berg said.
Commissioner Judy Brown said she likely wouldn’t have voted for the special use permit two years ago, but said the “horse is out of the barn” at this point.
“I honestly feel that this was Do it Yourself’s intention all along,” Brown said.
Lew Feldman, an attorney for Lumber City Corporation, the home center’s parent company, agreed. Only when the special use permit was first denied did the company scale back its plans to sell lumber, Feldman said.
The planning commission’s approval of the project opens a five business day period where an appeal can be filed. The filing of an appeal would put approval of the special use permit in the City Council’s hands.
Cosmi called the planning commission’s decision a “foregone conclusion” following the meeting.
When asked whether he would appeal the decision, Cosmi was non-committal.
“We’ll see,” Cosmi said.
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