Sparks fly over rooming house appeal City denies Pricks' appeal for permit for Flamingo By DAN ENGLAND The Salina Journal In a room thick with tension and anger, the Salina City Commission rejected an appeal to use the former Flamingo Motel as apartments and a rooming house. The rejection came after almost an hour of debate about the nature of the application, filed by Ben and LaVelle Frick, 120 Overhill. It was unclear if the application was for 33 commercial motel rooms and 10 apartments, or for 33 rooming house units and 10 apartments. The Salina Planning Commission previously denied the Fricks' application for a conditional use permit for the Flamingo. The Fricks Monday appealed to the city commission. Roy Dudark, director of planning and development, spoke about the application for the rooming house and apartments because that's what went before the planning commission. He said the idea of a rooming house bothered him and that the planning commission rejected the application based on the idea of rooming house. "There is no kitchen, so you don't have a place to prepare food, and that creates a fire hazard and unsanitary conditions," Dudark said. That's in contrast to a nonprofit rehabilitation center, which has a central kitchen, rules, supervision and a manager. The Flamingo wouldn't have that, Dudark said. But LaVelle Frick said the application for a rooming house or for motel rooms is the same under state law. "We were not aware that the city took it in its own hands to change a state law," Frick said. The Fricks' attorney, Dick Blackwell, also pressed that point, saying there is no definition stating the difference between motel rooms and a rooming house. "No, you're wrong," Dudark said. "It's in the statute. Read the statute." "I have read it," Blackwell said. "And the only apartments used in this place is Section 8 housing set up by the Salina Housing Authority and used by their daughter, who is handicapped." Under Section 8, tenants receive vouchers to pay rent to private landlords. The landlords turn the vouchers into the government to receive payment. Housing used in the program must meet quality standards. Commissioner Abner Perney, former director of the authority, took exception to Blackwell's statement. "The authority didn't set it up," Perney said. "I was forced to approve it by HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development) because of a discrimination complaint filed by the Fricks. "One of the reasons I'm no longer with the authority is because of the fact that HUD didn't follow its own rules, and I was disgusted with the whole thing. It doesn't meet Section 8 standards, and I didn't approve it as Section 8." City Attorney Greg Bengtson then spoke: "I dare say that Dudark's action in this matter would have been much different had this application been for 33 motel rooms." After the commission rejected their appeal, the Fricks said they may apply to the state for a motel license.