A self-storage developer in Visalia, Calif., is threatening to sue the city after his proposed development stalled because of a dispute with a resident near the parcel of land he owns.
Derrel Ridenour plans to build Derrel’s Mini Storage on about 10 acres of a 20-acre plot of land on the west side of Demaree Avenue. Ridenour, who owns more than 50 self-storage facilities across California, has owned the property for about a decade.
In 2008, Ridenour asked the city to change the parcel’s zoning. The Visalia City Council approved the zoning change in 2009, subject to a conditional zoning agreement which required the owners of all the properties located on the west side of Demaree to widen and improve Demaree Avenue along the proposed development. Ridenour agreed to cover the $1.4 million project which includes widening the street, adding gutters and a sidewalk.
Business owners in the area call the west side of Demaree an “eyesore,” and are encouraging the development of the parcel. Half a dozen homes on the block are vacant, with some in disrepair. One mobile home has been reduced to a pile of debris. Only two properties along the parcel remain occupied. One homeowner has agreed to Ridenour’s development, but the other has not.
Property owner, Rose Ann Walker, initially agreed to allow the front of her property to be part of the street improvements, signing a conditional zoning agreement in December 2009. Walker, who rents out the home, later changed her mind.
Ridenour filed a lawsuit against Walker and requested the city to enforce the conditional zoning agreement by using eminent domain. After the city refused, Ridenour threatened to bring a lawsuit against the city as well.
The city has refused to issue permits to demolish the empty houses from the city until Ridenour’s lawsuit with Walker is resolved. There may also be some dispute over who now owns Walker’s property. In her 80s and living in a nursing home, Walker claims she’s given ownership of the property to her sons, who did not sign the conditional zoning agreement. Ridenour and his attorney said they’re prepared to take the lawsuit to the Supreme Court if need be.