By Naomi Hatch
After a lengthy discussion, Maverik Store officials were given a variance to proceed with construction of a new store at 730 S. Main St. in Snowflake last week.
Todd Meyers, who represented Maverik, told the Snowflake Town Council March 11 that the firm has 106 older stores that they recently have been looking at to decide whether they should remodel them or build a new store. They decided to build new stores at three of those locations, including Snowflake.
Maverik’s survey showed that the accessory structure on the adjacent property was encroaching on its property by 10.1 feet.
Meyers said that he met with the property owner and has talked to him a few times. “My ideal situation was, I wanted to work it out amongst the two of us,” he said. He noted that he proposed a couple of options, but received a letter from property owner Rich McClellan’s attorney, Joseph Holland.
Meyers said that McClellan was offered $6,000 for the property and $2,000 for other costs.
“We have a situation where the law is adverse possession,” said Holland, explaining that in Arizona if the land is used for more than 10 years continuously, regardless of the boundary, it belongs to the person who has been using it. He said the garage was built in the 1940s, and he had no doubt that they would win the case in court.
Holland went on to explain that attempts to contact Maverik attorneys were unsuccessful and he wanted it to play out in court.
“I’m a little dismayed that we’ve reached this point,” said McClellan, noting that he first heard of the problem when he received a copy of Maverik’s survey. He explained that he spoke with Meyers on the phone and then went to the real estate agent who sold him the home that closed January 2007, noting that Maverik purchased its property in 2003 and the boundaries were not disputed at the time.
McClellan explained that the original garage and the shed are joined so if one was torn down he would have to make sure it was not a common wall. He said he felt there were be a number of expenses involved that would exceed Maverik’s offer. In addition, the gas and water meters are in the middle of the drive, and would have to be relocated.
Maverik was requesting a variance in case the firm is faced with the worst case scenario, which would be that McClellan owns the land through adverse possession. They were requesting a variance on the rear property line to allow the construction of the new store to begin, noting they wanted to have this completed by the end of 2014.
After discussion, Meyers said that Maverik would agree that the required block wall between commercial and residential property could be built on the east and west sides of the store, with no block wall behind the store, leaving a space for McClellan to maintain his garage area.
Holland voiced concerned that they would have no guarantee that the block wall wouldn’t be built at a later date, which could be a problem.
“Would it be possible, hearing what you’ve heard from Mr. Meyers today, if he went with the worst case scenario and does what he said he does, and you get it in writing… are you willing to move forward?” Mayor Kelly Willis asked McClelland and Holland.
“Today what we’re here for is a variance. The property line issue obviously is not within your jurisdiction,” responded Meyers. He explained that the advantage of the variance is that no matter how the property line issue works out, Maverik can move forward in building the new store.
“I don’t want to get into legalities, my hope would only be that the two parties could resolve the situation and we have some sense of feel here tonight that the two parties can come to an agreement,” said the mayor.
“It sounds like Mr. Holland’s question is answered by the fact that you’re saying the city should not require the 8’ wall,” said Town Attorney Robert Hall. He noted two alternatives, which were to require the wall except where the shed is located or not require the wall until the legal issues are settled between the two parties.
The mayor asked if the town paid to move the meters, although he noted that he was not saying that they would, “would that be a consideration?”
“He’s talking about the shed and I’m thinking about the whole 10’ property, so I’m not willing to sell that whole strip of property for $4,000,” said McClellan..
Mayor Willis then asked Meyers if there was any chance that a phone call would give him authority to negotiate and Meyers responded, “No.”
“I was hoping to get this thing done tonight; we don’t want discouragement,” said the mayor. “I realize this will be a great thing for the town and would like to move forward.”
Hall said that they are back to the two options discussed at the beginning of this item and noted that both parties were in agreement with the wall being built, but not between the existing structure.
“Maybe you guys should have a pow wow and come up with an agreement before this comes to us,” said Councilor Lynn Johnson. “I’m not willing to put us in that jeopardy to do this, so I would have a nay vote tonight until I’m sure both parties are on the same page.”
“It’s not the issue of not so much the block wall, but as to where to construct the new store, and if a variance is granted to build the store 36” from the garage structure, then what would stop the variance?” asked Planning and Zoning Administrator Dale Call. He suggested the block wall not be addressed until the boundaries have been determined.
A motion by Councilman Tom Poscharsky to adopt the variance and that the Maverik Store could be no closer than 36” to the existing structure wall to wall, and that no other walls could be built between and store and the existing structure passed unanimously.
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By Naomi Hatch