Brockman bought the 24,000-square-foot property in 2004. Brentwood Community Development Director Casey McCann said that in January of 2005, Brockman asked then-Director Howard Sword for clarification on the property’s zoning so a prospective tenant, Black Diamond Kids Center, would know if it could locate there. Sword responded by e-mail that, in the opinion of his department, the use would be allowable, McCann said.
Other non-conforming businesses began to fill other properties in the park. McCann said that can occur when businesses don’t get clarification on zoning issues before commencing operations, or change their operations later. It’s generally the responsibility of the business owner to make sure required operating permits are secured and fees paid, McCann said, although landlords could be held liable if businesses fail to pony up.
“It’s not unusual for businesses to get into gray areas,” he said, adding that payment for conditional use permits is not required up front, but “We always get our money.”
Ultimately, out of a total of 47 businesses in the park, nine – none of them on Brockman’s property – were found to be have uses prohibited in the area’s light industrial zoning. It was determined that one other business, Brockman’s tenant Black Diamond, was allowable with a conditional use permit, which was obtained by its owner in January at a cost of $5,000. Other businesses alleged in the news story to have operated without proper permits on Brockman’s property have all closed.
Because the city wants to keep businesses in the city, McCann said, the park’s remaining non-conforming businesses were given three years to relocate. None of the businesses pose significant public health or safety risks.
As for Brockman’s actions, McCann said the councilman received no special treatment because of his position with the city.
Brockman, who lost the Sunset property to foreclosure earlier this year, said the allegations made against him amounted to a hatchet job initiated by a political enemy.
“There are some powerful people upset with me,” he said, declining to elaborate for this story. “I believe I know who it is. It’s a personal attack without facts, by someone who doesn’t know me and doesn’t have the (guts) to confront me. I would encourage anyone with questions to review the time lines and facts. They’re all public records. And if anyone has questions, ask me.”