Open for Business? Kingwood council confused over business license approval process, Zigray: '“We have been rough on businesses and desperately need new business'

March 27, 2017
Kingwood, WV

By Theresa Marthey | Staff Writer

KINGWOOD — Kingwood City Council voted to have all “brick and mortar” business licenses applications reviewed by the city zoning board before coming to City Council.

A debate about the application process occurred at last Tuesday night’s meeting. Members reached the agenda item for the approval of two business license applications: Shay & Yoho Law Office and the Last Hot Spot.

“Did these go to the zoning board before coming to us tonight,” City Recorder Bill Robertson asked.

City Clerk Mary Howell replied “no,” adding that the business license applications did not formally go before the zoning board before coming to Council.

“It was my understanding that I was to discuss the applications (business license) with zoning and to determine if zoning had any problems with it before I brought them to you,” Howell added.

She said the city’s Zoning Board did not have any problems with the Shay & Yoho Law Office being located on Court Street because the location was already zoned as office.

“However, with The Last Hot Spot, they wanted to take some measurements because the potential entrance could be 100 feet from a residential district, and that would be a violation of the zoning ordinance,” She said.

Jason Hyre, who applied for The Last Hot Spot license, was at the meeting and told members of council he did not understand there was a problem.

“I will change the entrance on Route 26 to an exit to get this approved, and people can enter by coming down the steps” Hyre said. “However, just a few months ago, the council approved another Hot Spot license that has an entrance within 100 feet of a residential area, and there were no problems.”

Council members couldn’t remember approving any business license applications that were that close to a residential area, but Hyre said the location was Stacy’s Hot Spot on Pleasant Street.

“You approved that without it going to the zoning board first,” Hyre argued.

According to city records, council did approve a business license application for Stacy’s Hot Spot in November 2016.

Councilman Jeff Zigray said he is concerned the Council is penalizing people who are trying to do everything right to start a business.

“We have Mr. Hyre here who is trying to everything by the rules, and we are penalizing him,” Zigray said. “Then, there may be some businesses that aren’t following the rules and are sliding by. That isn’t right.”

Kingwood Mayor Curtis Stiles agreed with Zigray.

“Until someone comes to us like Mr. Hyre telling us about it, I don’t know if we will know these things,” Stiles said.

The council agreed to send both business license applications to the zoning board for recommendation and approval before coming to council. Meanwhile, Zigray said he believes the city is making the process of getting a business license more complicated then it needs to be.

“We are trying to bring businesses into Kingwood,” Zigray said. “We have been rough on businesses and desperately need new business.”

Robertson agreed and said he would like to see all businesses on a level playing field.

“We seem to go from one set of standards to another,” Robertson said.

At the end of the discussion, Councilman Jean Manuel Guillot made a motion to have all “brick and mortar” building licenses applications go to the zoning board for approval before coming to council for a vote.

The motion passed 3-2, with Councilmen Lefty Stonebraker, Guillot, Robertson and Wiley voting for the change. Councilman Dick Shaffer and Zigray voted against.

Staff Writer Theresa Marthey can be reached at (304) 276-1127 or by email at [email protected]