Two Minnesota School of Business students are working with the Blaine City Council to resolve zoning issues to make it possible to put a car wash in at a local Fastrip. As part of a service learning project in their Business Law class, Patsy (Patty) Paulson and Gary Taft, approached the owners of the Blaine Fastrip to identify an issue of law or regulation the business was facing. The gas station has a vacant lot next to it, where they’d like to put a car wash. But because of zoning issues, they haven’t been able to.
Victoria Mucha, Instructor of the Business Law Class and Paralegal Program Chair on campus, assisted the students with the proper procedure to address business issues. They learned about researching information about specific businesses and city regulations; and how to contact individuals for more information. “This experience will make the students better prepared to advocate for the businesses that they work for, and to understand the system,” Victoria said.
Patty and Gary did some research to see what could be changed to help this small business. They attended a City Council meeting, and were given the opportunity to speak. They spoke about the idea to put a carwash in at the Fastrip, and the obstacles the business was facing. From there, Patty and Gary were given the opportunity to meet the City Planner.
A blue print is being drawn up for the carwash. Patty says the council members were very interested in the fact that a bankrupt business in the community has been brought back to being a success (the gas station was recently re-branded as a Marathon). The council members are interested in seeing the blue prints, and it may be possible to change the restrictions, allowing a conditional carwash (with limited hours of use), to be built.
According to Gary, this project was a great learning experience. “I had never been to a city council meeting. Attending and seeing how our elected officials work was great for me,” he said.
Patty says this process has taught her the proper steps to take to make her issues heard. “This project has prepared me for a possible job in research for a company,” she said. “It’s a great experience to put on a resume or to address during an interview that could make me stand out from another candidate.”