HUNTINGTON — Old Central City will not see a junkyard after members of the Huntington Board of Zoning Appeals denied the creation of one, citing a possible detriment to neighboring homes and the city’s vision for the area.

Jimmie Taylor, owner of Taylor Iron and Metal, had requested a special permit to relocate the company’s junkyard to a lot he owns on the southeast corner of Van Buren Avenue and 14th Street West in Old Central City.

The lot is across the street from the former Duncan Box property and is surrounded by several houses.

Taylor needed permission from the Board of Zoning Appeals because the lot is classified as part of the “General Industrial District,” which allows industrial companies not posing a nuisance to surrounding homes and businesses.

Jimmie Taylor Jr., the owner’s son, said the company wanted to close its current junkyard at 314 14th St. West in favor of moving to the new location in Old Central City. Fuchs Lubricants Co. is interested in buying that property because it wants to expand its presence in Huntington.

Taylor Iron and Metal wanted to use the Old Central City lot for its auto part salvage sales.

At least 14 people who live and work in the area attended the meeting Tuesday of the Board of Zoning Appeals to speak against the special permit. Many said they feared lowered property values, increased noise and air pollution and having to look at an eyesore.

Attorney Rita Biser, of Moore and Biser in South Charleston, said her family lives on Jackson Avenue, directly behind the proposed junkyard.

“When you transport old junked cars, we’re going to have oil; we’re going to have antifreeze,” she said. “You can try to get these things out, but the truth is it’s not all going to come out.”

Biser said she was concerned about the environmental impact, especially groundwater and the proximity to Fourpole Creek. She gave Zoning Board members a petition signed by at least 40 people opposing the junkyard.

Sue Wright, manager of Village Renewal Antiques, said this type of business would not be welcoming to visitors in the area.

The city has spent many years trying to revitalize Old Central City and a junkyard would be a step backward, she said.

“There are a lot of people that think antiques are nothing but glorified junk,” she said. “If we approve this, we can walk customers to the front door and say, ‘If you want junk, you can walk two blocks down here.'”

She handed board members a petition signed by 26 antiques dealers that operate out of Village Renewal Antiques opposing the permit.

Kevin Brady, executive director of the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, said a junkyard would greet people on the road to Ritter Park, Memorial Park and Safety Town.

His organization is making a considerable investment in the West End by building an all-inclusive playground at St. Cloud Commons.

A junkyard would take away from that investment, he said.

“I personally am tired of the West End being the least important section of this town and being neglected the way it is,” he said.

David Webb, of Fuchs Lubricants, said if Taylor Iron and Metal had been able to move to the proposed lot, his company would buy its former junkyard. Webb said his company is interested in expanding, adding 15 new jobs and a trucking service.

Patricia Proctor, chairwoman of the Board of Zoning Appeals, said the proposal was to consider the junkyard in Old Central City and not the potential expansion of his business.

She said the junkyard would likely hinder the city’s future development in the area and take away from the nearby parks and homes.

“Even though I wish you well on your business’ endeavors, I cannot and do not support this permit,” she said.

Board members followed suit and unanimously voted against the permit.

Taylor and Webb said they had no comment following the meeting.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

Source: The Associated Press