For 15 years, West End Auto Sales, owned by Johnny Letner, occupied the red caboose (PHOTO ABOVE) in LaFollette on the four lane. Letner was recently involuntarily moved from the property by CSX. He then relocated the business to property he already owned on West Avenue a few weeks ago. He had paid rent to Hack Ayers, then to Joe Arnold, prior to being forced off the property, Letner said. “I was told by CSX that I had been paying rent to the wrong person and I had 60 days to get out,” said Letner.
Letner’s new lot sits where Benge’s Grocery sat for years. No sign has been erected yet.
On Monday night during the LaFollette City Council workshop, Councilperson Ann Thompson said she had been contacted by several citizens with complaints about Letner’s car lot on West Avenue, across from West LaFollette Baptist Church.
LaFollette City Administrator Jimmy Jeffries said city codes enforcement officer Daniel Smith had sent Letner a certified letter about the issue; Letner denied receiving the certified letter.
In a follow up interview on Wednesday about the issue, Jeffries said Letner had come to city hall on Wednesday morning; he was hand delivered a copy of the certified letter (ABOVE).
The letter, dated Oct. 15, 2018, stated he had been operating a car lot at 202 West Avenue, which is not zoned for a car lot. He must move all cars immediately and cease operations, according to the letter.
West End Auto Sales sits across West Avenue from the West La Follette Baptist Church. Letner says, “I’ve been a member at that church for years.”
Letner came before the planning commission on Sept. 27 about the property and was denied. The property is zoned as C3 that allows grocery stores, drug stores, barber and beauty shops, laundry and dry-cleaning pick up stations, doctors and dentist offices, established for the convenience of the neighborhood. Prohibited uses are manufacturing uses or any commercial or other use not specifically permitted or permissible on approval by the board of zoning appeals, according to city codes.
Letner said he plans to appeal the decision with city council at its Nov. 13 monthly meeting. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 11/01/2018-6AM)