FRUITLAND — After 2017’s snowmageddon destroyed a house on one of their properties, Fruitland resident Ken Bishop and his wife, Julia, decided they want to replace it with a duplex. However, when it came time to draw up plans, city officials told the couple that a zoning technicality would prevent the project going forward.
During a public hearing at the Fruitland City Council’s regular meeting on Monday, the former Fruitland mayor presented his case before current Mayor Brian Howell and the council. He submitted an application, requesting that the council rezone properties he owns at 301-305 N. Pennsylvania Ave. and 301-312 Johnson Rd. from single-family residential use to multi-family in order to begin the project.
“They were originally set up in the 80’s by my father,” said Bishop, with City Administrator Rick Watkins noting the properties are located in Zone 6. “It pre-dates single-family residential and multi-family residential. All these properties have been in continuous use since then.”
Bishop said he has been using the properties as low-cost rental homes, aiming to keep costs as reasonable as possible for tenants. The properties include several manufactured homes and a duplex near Bishop’s home, built around the time his father set up the properties.
“As [the use] is non-conforming, we cannot replace any of the units that are currently on there,” he said. “305 Johnson; Its roof collapsed during ‘snowmageddon’ and was subsequently demolished. This year, we realized we cannot replace that with anything. So we thought that it would be best … to conform the properties so that they can continue being as they are and used as they are, and perhaps even fill in the empty spots.”
Input from the Fruitland Planning and Zoning Commission indicated concerns about what other uses might be planned for the properties in the future.
“We agreed to limit that, and that’s where we came up with limiting it to no more than two stories and duplex units that would be similar to the ones already on Johnson and Pennsylvania,” said Bishop.
He said the agreement also includes a commitment to donate a parcel of land on Pennsylvania Avenue to the city.
Public testimony was given by resident Josh Knott, who said he favored conforming the properties as the city could benefit from a cleanup of the property.
Councilor Kaci Peterson said she favored the project, because if Bishop sells the property, his agreement with the city transfers to the future ownership.
With that in mind, Peterson moved to approve the rezoning request, seconded by Councilor Stuart Grimes. The vote to approve was unanimous, 4-0.
Ken Bishop is also the owner of The Biz Zone, a printing and graphic design shop.