Restaurant To Become Car Dealership

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The Ponderosa Steakhouse is heading toward its last roundup.

The Payson Planning and Zoning Commission heard a proposal for a conditional use permit Aug. 5 to convert the restaurant and its parking lot into an automotive dealership.

Approved as presented, the site can have no more than 40 vehicles, plus parking for nine employees and 16 spaces for customers.

To remodel the restaurant, appropriate permits must be obtained.

Presenting the proposal to the planners, Jeff Sievert said the project could bring in added tax revenues. He said it will produce between $400,000 and $500,000 in revenue, while the current use generates less than $100,000. He said the restaurant uses more than a million gallons of water, while a car dealership would have minimal impact on the town water supply.

While none of Sievert's neighbors in the Rim Country Mall objected to the proposal, a protest was lodged by Joe Soldevere, who said he was speaking on behalf of himself and the other car dealers in the area. He said he and others have tried to get permits for used car lots and have been denied.

"It takes a C3 zoning to store and display vehicles. If I couldn't do it, this man shouldn't be able to do it either," he said.

Sievert said he and the owner of the property, Mike Chipman, have not completely committed to used cars. He said they have applied for a dealership with a Japanese auto maker, but he was not able to give the name because they were still negotiating.

Quizzed about the plans for the building, Sievert said there will be two floor-to-ceiling glass walls at the front of the structure, two garage doors will be installed at the rear, where the service department will be. The awnings on the building will be changed and it will be painted white.

The commission approved the request for a conditional use permit to convert the Ponderosa Steakhouse into a car dealership. The vote was 5-1, with Commissioner Ted Scholz opposed and Commissioner Don Harmon absent.

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