Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Council grants variance for ATV sales

The corner lot on which higbee's café once sat is soon to become a sales lot for recreational vehicles.

The Sundance City Council has granted a one-year variance that will allow the land, which is zoned as downtown business, to be used for this purpose.

Owners Darlene and Jason Coder have said they intend to display ATVs, motorcycles and seasonal equipment, promoting the Black Hills as a recreational destination in the process. The next door lot, which was until recently a real estate office, has already opened as Adventures 307, selling outdoors-inspired items and natural foods, and will also serve as the sales premises for the vehicles.

At this time, said Jason, the vehicles displayed on the lot will only be for sale; rental is not included in the initial plan. This is because the logistics of rental are complicated, he said, and include big steps such as insurance costs.

However, he said, the reaction to the gift store so far has been good.

"It's been fantastic," he said.

Many customers have asked about the Coders' plans for the empty lot next door, he told the council, and he has heard no negative reactions when they are told about the vehicle lot.

The sales lot has been a point of contention for a couple of months due to the nature of the business, which does not specifically fit with the zoning for downtown businesses.

Mayor Paul Brooks commented that he is not particularly keen on the idea of a vehicle lot because he does not want to see an empty lot in the downtown area. The lack of a building is a problem, he said, because it can make a town look as though it is dying.

"[The] aesthetics of the town, to me, mean a whole lot," he said, noting that Sundance Square was built specifically to avoid a vacant lot where Central Office once stood.

Jason agreed with his thinking, stating that the Coders own multiple businesses across three states and believe the image of a town is important. The Coders want to see people coming to town to utilize the Black Hills, eat in the restaurants and so on, he said.

However, he said, "It's just not feasible for us right now to erect a building."

He listed loan rates and material costs among the issues that are making construction expensive. Once these come down and the business is established, he said, things may change.

Council Member Joe Wilson agreed, but felt that the appearance of the lot was of lower priority than establishing a business on the lot.

"I'd rather see a building, but I don't want to hinder a business coming in," he said.

However, he noted that it would be great to see it enclosed in the future.

After hearing and seeing the plans for the lot, a motion was made to approve the variance, which would have a sunset date after one year to allow the opportunity for the council to reconsider the question.

The council was evenly split, with Wilson and Council Member Randy Stevenson voting to approve the variance and Council Members Callie Hilty and Brad Marchant voting to deny it.

Left to cast the deciding vote, Brooks stated that he wants to see the Coders move forward with their business as planned.

"I'm going to vote for you, but I don't want to be disappointed," he said. The motion passed.