Richmond P&Z approves conversion of Pet Milk factory to warehouse

RICHMOND — “Do you want an eyesore?” Local businessman Quentin Casperson stood before the Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday, seeking a conditional use permit for the old Pet Milk factory. “We’ve finally got some serious money that will let us use the building for something good.”

He was referring to part-owner Ray Winn, who is looking to renovate about one-fifth of the building into a consumer-driven warehouse, equipped with cargo containers and an area for boat storage.

Casperson presented the commission with detailed plans for the proposal. “There’s been a lot of discouragement and a lot of our partners have backed down and quit. But Ray’s no quitter.”

In 2008, Casperson said, new owners successfully renovated the factory into a haunted house, but then were unable to qualify for a second permit the next year. Casperson talked about the tens of thousands of dollars spent on earthquake-proofing the building, as well as getting the building up to city code.

“We want to do things with this old factory and we’d really like some positive reinforcement,” Casperson said.

The commission expressed concern about the safety of the building and whether it would pass city and county structural and fire codes.

“I’m sure that one-fifth will be taken care of,” commissioner Monica Merrill said, “but four-fifths are still unsafe for workers. We are talking about the building as a whole.”

Casperson said that Winn has liability insurance on the entire $200,000 estate. He also told the commission that once the warehouse is generating profit and more funding is available, Winn wants to extend his plans throughout at least two-thirds of the property.

“He’s got enough money to do this portion, and eventually move throughout the building,” Casperson said.

City manager Marlowe Adkins reminded the commissioners that it was up to the county fire chief to make sure the building is structurally sound. “Once the city has authorized the building, then the fire department will go around and let them know what needs to be done [to meet fire code].”

Approved by all but Merrill, the proposal for a conditional use permit was passed. Casperson and Winn’s proposal has been sent to the City Council and will be on the agenda at the March 19 neeting.

Published in cooperation with the Hard News Cafe. Original story is here.