A truck salvage business and city officials are wrangling over the best way for the company to operate in Lorain.
On Feb. 3, the Lorain Zoning Board of Appeals denied a conditional use permit for Peanut Propertis Ohio LLC to operate at 3618 Elyria Ave.
But the company will return for city authorization.
The city Planning Commission held in abeyance a rezoning request for the company and owner Joseph Burda of North Ridgeville.
That allows more time for Burda, his lawyer and city staff to determine how Burda can comply with a court ruling filed in the case when he appealed an earlier city denial to operate at the site.
Trouble in the past
The city actions were the latest step in legal disputes going back for more than two years.
Burda is the former owner of JB Acquisitions LLC, the indoor auto and machinery salvage yard at the intersection of Grove Avenue and Homewood Drive in South Lorain.
That property had two street addresses, 3725 Grove Ave. and 2261 Homewood Drive, and the junked cars, trucks and trailers there became a target for city code enforcement.
Burda sold that site.
In February 2017, he purchased the former American Auto Wrecking, a third-generation auto junkyard at 3618 Elyria Ave.
In 2018, the Planning Commission denied Burda’s applications to operate there.
He appealed that ruling to Lorain County Common Pleas Court.
Burda and the city settled the case last year.
Last fall, Burda returned with new zoning and planning applications to open the salvage yard on the west side of Elyria Avenue, with a storage building across the street.
Citing the history of Burda’s earlier operation, Lorain Fire Department Assistant Chief Greg Neal and Ward 5 Councilwoman JoAnne Moon spoke against Burda’s current proposal.
“Mr. Burda, my concern here, is the past and the lack of an action of some of the violations and issues you’ve had with some of these buildings, in not just this area, but also in some of the other buildings you’ve had as well,” Neal said.
He said he was concerned about giving Burda any leeway at all with no commitment from Burda to clean up the properties in the future.
Burda’s attorney, Bryan O’Malley of Cleveland, countered that Burda invited the Fire Department to review the building on the west side of Elyria Avenue and he made improvements that were recommended.
Burda also is able to make the building open for inspections and will abate any building or fire code violations, O’Malley said.
Chief Building Official Richard Klinar said he had not received a request for an inspection there for quite some time.
Too many operators from outside Lorain want to put their junkyards in the city, Moon said.
Residents don’t want to live next to a junkyard and don’t want it in Ward 5, she said.
Moon asked why Burda would not locate the salvage business in North Ridgeville.
Burda’s former site on state Route 57, which also is Grove Avenue in Lorain, had a lot of problems, she said.
“My opinion is, I do not want this junkyard in the Fifth Ward,” Moon said. “I would like to see it, maybe in North Ridgeville, because it looks bad.”
Burda had difficulty with the vision for the business on Route 57, and it didn’t go well for him or the city, O’Malley said.
But, Burda is a businessman who wants to be in Lorain, O’Malley said.
Burda’s operation is relatively small, but there is a large junkyard next to it, he said.
Zoning Board of Appeals members Safety-Service Director Sanford Washington, Henry Patterson, Michael Nardini and Neal voted to deny Burda’s request for the conditional use permit.
Mayor Jack Bradley, a member of the City Planning Commission, noted Burda had little engagement with the city administration and staff before coming to the planning boards.
But Bradley said he hoped there could be discussion, clarification and good faith improvements to the property by Burda.
The mayor also wanted Moon to be part of the continuing discussion about Burda’s operation.