Editorials

Richland land sale should favor small-business owner

Government leaves us scratching our heads sometimes.

A small-business owner in Richland is in jeopardy of losing access to his auto repair shop because the city may sell property it owns in front of the store.

The city property sits right smack in front of Chuck's Auto Repair and Service off Goethals Drive.

Shop owner Chuck Garlinghouse fears that someone will buy the lot and put up a building, blocking access to his service bay.

In other words, he'll be forced out of the business he's been at for eight years and owned for four.

Garlinghouse rents the shop and doesn't have the resources to reconfigure its layout. His landlord has tried in the past to buy the city's property, but has not been successful. He leases the city property for $250 a month.

The last time the city offered the property for sale, the two bids submitted were thrown out for a host of reasons.

Recently, Richland City Councilman Ed Revell asked the city to negotiate with Garlinghouse's landlord to purchase the property, calling it the right thing to do.

It makes sense that neighboring property owners would have an interest in the site, and the landlord has a trailer that encroaches on the city's property already.

The rest of the council disagreed, placing a small-business owner's future in jeopardy.

Apparently this has been an ongoing issue, and discussions between Garlinghouse's landlord and the city have been under way for some time.

The city knows if it sells the property, that action has real potential to damage Garlinghouse's business. But it doesn't look like the city cares.

Why couldn't Richland build a right of way into the parcel it owns, allowing for the sale of its asset but still guaranteeing access for the existing auto body shop?

That seems like an easy fix and something well within control of the city council. Land sales often come tied to conditions and provisions.

With bids due by Thursday, Garlinghouse's fate should soon be known. Let's hope that the city brings some reasoned solution to the table to preserve Chuck's Auto Repair and Service.

It's tough enough for small business owners to stay afloat these days. Cities are supposed to foster these businesses to help them grow and bring more revenue to the city in the process.

Small business owners don't need city government making entrepreneurship any more challenging that it already is.

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