FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Those longing for Famous Taco on West Jefferson Boulevard shouldn’t give up hope. An Allen Superior Court judge Thursday sent the Famous Taco “no go” decision back to the Fort Wayne Plan Commission with fairly stern language to reconsider the application.
“The court believes the best remedy for the November 14, 2022 entry of inadequate findings by the Plan Commission is for the Court to remand this case to the Plan Commission to enter findings of fact that comply with the law,” Allen Superior Court Judge Craig Bobay wrote in his opinion.
Famous Taco owner Martin Quintana appeared in front of the judge on Sept. 5 with his attorney, Jason Kuchmay, asking the judge to overturn the plan commission’s 5-4 vote denying Quintana’s application to open a restaurant in his 11,000 square foot strip mall.
This past November the plan commission was irked that Quintana built a 9,000 square foot garage at his property at 6626 W. Jefferson Blvd. without getting proper approval. He then got a zoning change from City Council and worked out an agreement with Covington Creek Condominium Association whose members originally objected to Quintana’s proposal.
Although Kuchmay didn’t ask that the matter be revisited by the Plan Commission, that’s what Bobay ordered.
“The Court observes that the so-called findings of fact entered on November 14, 2022, by the Plan Commission are insufficient as a matter of law,” Bobay wrote in Thursday’s opinion.
Bobay goes on to question how the plan commission could deny Quintana’s proposed restaurant whereas similar ones now located in the same corridor gained approval.
“The parties are encouraged to revisit the issue anew, and to focus on how the proposed ‘made-to-order’ taco bar-style restaurant is materially different from the ‘made-to-order’ sandwich bar-style restaurant in the already well-developed West Jefferson commercial corridor, which includes several nearby establishments such as Culvers, Moes, Burger King, Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, etc.,” Bobay wrote.
In another paragraph, Bobay said “Federal courts have often been critical of these so-called ‘legal conclusions’ masquerading as facts…without specific facts to support its decision, the Plan Commission’s findings are insufficient. Here the Court could easily conclude that the Plan Commission’s Findings of Fact are so lacking, that the Plan Commission’s decision is without support, arbitrary and not in accordance with law.”
Bobay remanded the case with instructions “to consider conducting a new proceeding and enter specific findings of fact that are tailored to address specific facts presented to the Plan Commission in support of a decision regarding Quintana’s Amended Written Commitment.”
A reporter with WANE 15 reached out to the Fort Wayne Plan Commission late in the day but has not heard back. The reporter also contacted Quintana and Kuchmay, but as of yet, there’s been no response.