Getting ready to look for land / property again

I spoke with Carolyn last weekend and she’s still in the middle of her US story telling tour, but she plans on returning to Meadview in early August. And then we’ll resume our search for suitable property.

In June we were ready to rent a property on Pierce Ferry.

When I spoke to county zoning I learned that “commercial” zoning is different from “retail” zoning. A property used as an office (such as real estate) requires a variance or a zoning upgrade. To accomplish this, you need to pay fees, notify all owners within 300 ft and if they don’t object, the application will be granted.  And that’s the EASY and CHEAP part of the process.

Bringing existing properties up to current codes is very expensive.  It probably requires new septic, electric upgrades, making the parking area and driveway dust free (paving) and who knows what else.  And of course all work has to be done by COMMERCIAL contractors, not just any licensed contractor.

It’s amazing to see that an entire family can LEGALLY occupy one of these old houses.  You can have 5 people shower and do laundry, but you can NOT have a retail store with NO showering and laundering and only part-time occupation (business hours) without installing a new septic system.

Can we rent a property with one of those old houses, have the garden in the back and rent out the house?

Wanting to sell ANYTHING outside requires a zoning upgrade.

It’s called a “swap meet” I don’t know yet what else is required to have a place where we and area residents can buy and sell stuff on Saturdays.

Can we do this on a vacant lot?

During my 2 hour visit at the county I didn’t ask about that.  Do we need septic and dust-free parking for a swap meet?

According to the county yard sale rules, we can have 4 sales per year at a residential address.  However, there seems to be a problem with signs and I heard that someone in Meadview actually picked up a bunch of yardsale signs, drove to the sale and threw the signs over the fence, alleging violations related to the placement of the beautiful signs.

That’s in part why we thought it would be better to have a location up on Pierce Ferry with regular sales and we wouldn’t have to worry about signs and people finding us.

The $50,000 kitchen – vending cart

I’ve already talked to the health department and being able to serve tea seems to be completely out of the question because we don’t have $50,000 or so to upgrade to a commercial kitchen with 7 sinks.

So we thought a vending cart would be the solution, but during my county visit I was told that a vending cart is not supposed to be parked in the same location.  HUH? Why not? Do E. coli and salmonella disappear when the cart is moved?

The regulations are completely insane, government gone berserk.  But, not having $50,000 for a commercial kitchen, I suppose we’ll just have to move the cart according to the county’s rules.  We’ll waste the gasoline and provide a reason for more oil wars — if that’s what it takes to serve healthy food in Mohave County.

The community garden

The good news:  We can have a community garden ANYWHERE, on a commercial or residential lot, it makes no difference.

So maybe we’ll just rent one of the many vacant lots on Pierce Ferry?  Of course the garden will need to be FENCED and we’ll need WATER and a PUMP HOUSE.  Do we need a commercial contractor to build the pump house on a commercial lot?

Nothing’s ever easy

It’s become very clear to me why the county is so depressed — only millionaires like the Chinese guy with the buses can start a new business and make money.   I know what Cary and Lori went through after they bought Ken’s Pizza.  I understand that many requirements are not imposed on existing businesses and many operations are “grandfathered in.”   I also agree with high standards for new construction of restaurants.

I just don’t think it should be so difficult and expensive to provide tea and maybe some snacks at a non profit community center and to provide a space for local artists and crafters to practice their crafts and sell their products.

While almost all properties along Pierce Ferry are for sale and/or lease, there isn’t one that would be suitable for our purposes.  After a business has been closed for 6 months, everything has to be brought up to current codes.

Please post here or contact me directly if you have any suggestions for property or a vending cart.

We may just have to start with a community garden.  But even that could become incredibly expensive if we need electricity and a pump house.  Maybe we can do gravity watering or use a little 12 volt pump hooked up to a truck battery or solar panel for watering.   At least it doesn’t look like we’ll be facing jail for growing veggies like Julie Bass in Oak Park, MI.  It would be much easier to have the community garden on a residential lot, but then people wouldn’t see it and a primary objective is to encourage everybody to grow food or purchase locally grown food.

2 Responses to Getting ready to look for land / property again

  1. From a reader email:

    “Is there any possibility that you could find someone else to rent the front house for a small business and you use the back for the community garden?”

    That was our first thought. We knew that someone else was interested in the property and I asked whether we couldn’t rent the back from them. The answer was a clear NO!!!

    We since found out that our competition is a marijuana dispensary and that explains the NO. However, since the entire bill is now on hold due to the Arizona litigation, I don’t know whether the dispensary still wants the property.

    According to the county, just about every property along Pierce Ferry was checked out by the marijuana people and of course NO upgrades to the building or zoning would be required for them as they don’t do retail.

    I can see why they would like the building, it’s beautiful and clean inside, perfect.

    Here’s a recent article on the ACLU chiming in on the litigation:
    http://blog.420petition.com/patient-rights/the-arizona-marijuana-battle-aclu-jumps-in/

    If the case does get dismissed, the dispensary is ready to go.

    If not, it might be YEARS of litigation as they thought at the county. We’ll see.

    Another question:

    “Are hot water pots against the food regulations? If you had a hot water pot/thermos and some boxes of tea out would that go?”

    The way I understand the rules, you can’t SELL water UNLESS prepackaged (i.e. usually in toxic plastic bottles). And of course any water from our wells would have to be tested by us (in addition to the well tests) periodically.

    Anything sold for human consumption must be stored and prepared in a COMMERCIAL kitchen with COMMERCIAL refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers and water heaters.

    What does COMMERCIAL mean? It’s a LOT more expensive.

    One exception seems to be coffee provided at banks or other businesses, but that’s not sold.

    As a non profit, we could also get special permits for benefits with food sales 4 times a year.

    And of course there’s the exception for baked foods, the new law.

    We’d certainly welcome splitting the rent with another business.

    I’m not aware of anyone who wants to start a business out here.

    Of course it couldn’t be a RETAIL business, as that would require all the zoning changes AND building upgrades. I can’t really think of anything one could do with an office here that you can’t do in your house.

    We already have way plenty real estate people and what else is there?

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