Persistent Would-Be Car Lot Operator Closing In On Goal

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Fred Lashley has been burning up the road between Strawberry and Globe for the last few months, and may himself need a new car by the time he's accomplished his task.

Lashley, a newcomer to the Rim country, has been trying since September to get Gila County approval to open a used car lot across Highway 87 from the Strawberry Market.

In order to open for business, Lashley needs a change of zoning on his property.

Over the last few months, he says he's made five trips to Globe, filled out all of his paperwork, and paid all of the necessary fees. In the process, his proposal for the tiny used car dealership was tabled at least three times by the board of supervisors for Lashley to gather more information.

"I feel like a basketball," he said. "Every time I think I've got everything they want from me, they stick out another hoop in front of me."

Lashley, however, may be reaching that fourth-quarter buzzer.

After being denied by the supervisors yet again, he was given a list of 15 items he could address that just might net approval from the supervisors.

"I've only got about two things left to take care of on that list, and then we'll be ready to resubmit to the county," Lashley said.

"I think we'll get it resolved," said Joe Mendoza, director of the county's Community Development Department in Payson. "All of the concerns on that list are legitimate concerns."

Mendoza said what initially caused the problem was Lashley's first proposal. That draft showed Lashley's intent to operate a used car lot, with space for 10 vehicles, plus customer parking. Without adequate property for the car lot, and without being informed that the applicant was willing to scale down his project, the county simply refused the proposal.

"Now, he's developed a smaller plan, with fewer cars," Mendoza said.

Lashley said he's submitted a petition signed by 175 area residents in support of his proposed dealership, and knows of 13 in opposition.

"I think those who are opposed to this think it was going to turn into some kind of super car lot full of junk cars," he said. "All I want to do is open up a little dealership with four to six cars and get it running."

Once the final few items are checked off his list, Lashley said he thinks he'll be ready to resubmit his request in the next week or two.

"It's hard to predict what the supervisors will do," said Terry Smith, county planning and zoning director.

"I have a strong assumption that if Mr. Lashley is able to meet all of those requirements, I get the impression that the board will consider his request."

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