Lee’s Summit gave car dealer John Finnigan a three-year special use permit to run a car dealership on Third Street a few blocks east of U.S. 50.
He is moving from a location on Oldham Parkway where he sold cars for five years and bought the former O’Reilly Auto Parts Store at 516 SW Third Street.
The City Council Dec. 12 approved his plan after reconsidering a failed motion the prior week.
Finnigan said in the earlier public hearing Dec. 5 that his business would have cars stored in the rear and on the east side of his building.
He portrayed it as a low-key operation, selling newer cars, under warranty, so he would have no need for a service area and that most customers choose their vehicles using the Internet, making a selection before coming to the site.
“I don’t have a use for a guy in a polyester suit and a big cowboy hat to come out and greet people,” Finnigan said.
City staff supported giving the business a 10-year special use permit; the Planning Commission recommended five years.
Director of Planning Bob McKay, in the hearing, said that city staff supported the car lot as a temporary use, even though the city wants a plan to emerge that could revitalize that corridor. McKay said that will take some time and in the interim having the dealership is better than a vacant building.
The former parts store has been vacant two years.
Council members Rob Binney and Allan Gray had concerns about putting a used-car lot at the “gateway” to downtown, while others like Ed Cockrell supported a five-year permit as being better than a vacant building.
A motion to “draft an ordinance” failed in a split decision.
The council held a special session Dec. 12 to reconsider its vote. Council member Brian Whitley said he wanted to reconsider the plan after meeting with Finnigan, who explained he planned on that location being temporary for car sales.
“It kind of lined up and made sense for that parcel,” Whitley said.
The three-year permit passed 5-2, with Binney and Gray voting no, and David Mosby absent.