Richland mechanic fears land sale will cut off access

RICHLAND — A Richland man fears the sale of some city-owned land fronting his business could force his auto repair shop to close.

Chuck Garlinghouse has owned Chuck’s Auto Repair and Service for four years and has managed the business for eight.

Richland is interested in selling a piece of land that sits directly in front of Garlinghouse’s Goethals Drive repair shop. If someone bought the land and built a building, Garlinghouse said the entry to his service bay would likely be blocked.

“For (the city) to sell that property, they’re going to shut my front door,” he said.

Garlinghouse added he doesn’t have the money to remodel his shop, which is owned by someone else.

The city put the property up for sale in 2008, but threw out the bids because of inconsistencies in the applications. The Richland City Council decided this month to start over and get new bids.

Learning of Garlinghouse’s concerns, Councilman Ed Revell suggested the city just negotiate to sell the nearly 7,000-square-foot lot to Garlinghouse’s landlord.

But the council rejected that 6-1 and then voted 6-1 to seek new bids.

“I thought it was the right thing to do,” Revell said. “If you’re going to sell something, you should check with the people closest to see if they want to buy it.”

However, Revell said he supports the council’s decision. “I just wish the owner good luck.”

Stephen Clyde, part-owner of the property Garlinghouse’s business sits on, approached the city in 2008 asking if he could buy the land because a trailer on his property encroaches on the city parcel.

When the city asked for bids, Clyde made an offer and so did Richland businessman Tim Bush.

Clyde offered $26,145, while Bush bid $30,010.

Gary Ballew, Richland economic development manager, said Bush’s proposal contained several provisions, including that the property be rezoned to commercial, survey work be done and it be cleared by the city. Clyde’s proposal was missing a signature on the page that proved he had the finances to buy the land.

Both bids were tossed out.

Since then, Ballew said the land’s zoning has been changed from public spaces to neighborhood commercial and the land has been professionally surveyed. Clyde is leasing the property month to month for $250.

Ballew said Bush wanted to build “a storage-type building.”

Clyde is unsure if he’s going to bid again, saying the entire ordeal has left him deflated.

“It’s been very disappointing to me,” he said. “We went in there and tried to do the right thing.”

When Clyde and several others bought the property more than two years ago, the trailer encroaching the city’s parcel was already in place. Ballew, Revell and Clyde agree that the trailer was partially placed on the city’s property decades ago.

Although no bids have been received — they’re due Feb. 18 — Ballew said the council understands that selling it to anyone other than the owners of the neighboring property could hurt those businesses.

“Council is aware of the situation,” Ballew said. “How that will play into their deliberations is really a council issue.”