The Mustang City Council was split on granting an applicant a conditional use permit for a auto paint and body shop on the east side of town. They will discuss the issue again at their next meeting on Oct. 15.
The applicant, Automar Used Cars and Service, was hoping to receive the permit to open a shop on five acres of property just north of Fireworks City at 221 N. County Line Road.
Although the city’s long-range plan calls for low-density housing on the property, it was zoned light industrial (I-1) and a similar type of business had operated on the land since 2000.
Okie Services was the previous tenant on the property.
For the new applicant, the Mustang Community Development Department encouraged the City Council to place conditions on the permit.
It was the first conditional use permit application the city received since 2004.
"There are different types of businesses that are allowed under different types of zoning," said Mayor Jay Adams. "In this case, a body shop is not fully permitted under the light industrial zoning, unless a conditional use permit is granted."
Mustang Fire Chief Carl Hickman said the existing building on the property was 520 feet away from the nearest fire hydrant and had to be at least 400 feet from a hydrant to meet city code.
"Commercial buildings need to either have sprinklers or be at least 400 feet from a hydrant," Hickman said.
The applicant pointed out that the previous tenant had operated a similar auto shop for years without being required to be within 400 feet from a hydrant.
"We want to do things the right way from now on and we are working towards that," Adams told the applicant.
Ward 2 Councilwoman Kathleen Staples said she was concerned about a body shop with flammable materials being next door to a fireworks store.
"That would worry me if that building ever caught fire," Staples said.
Ward 1 Councilman Matt Taylor said he did not understand why the applicant would apply for a permit knowing there was not adequate fire protection near the property.
"There is residential zoning all around the property, this shop would have flammable materials stored and it is right next to Fireworks USA," Taylor said. "I am wondering how we are even at this point to issue a permit?"
Taylor said he would vote to issue the permit if a site screening fence was ran along the south property line facing Fireworks USA.
Community Development Director Robert Coleman recommended that fencing only be placed in areas where paining and body work would be conducted and where cars would be stored. City Manager Tim Rooney and Adams agreed with Coleman’s recommendation.
Taylor said he still wanted the fencing along the south side of the property.
Mayor Adams said he did not understand Taylor’s request, as the fencing along the south side of the property was not a requirement, even under a normal permit.
Ward 6 Councilman Don Mount said he did not believe the conditions of the permit mattered if the applicant did not pass DEQ and fire requirements.
Rooney said a permit needed to be issued first if the applicant was going to move forward with DEQ and fire requirements.
"No one is going to invest money in a water line for a fire hydrant to the property if they are not sure they will be approved for a permit from the city," Rooney said. "Even if we issue a permit with all these conditions, they still need to pass DEQ and fire requirements."
Mayor Adams asked the City Council which conditions they wanted to place on the permit.
Staples stressed that hours of operation should be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and that the applicant meets city fire codes. Conditions of meeting DEQ requirements and providing effective site screening were also placed.
However, council members Taylor, Staples and Mount still voted against issuing the permit. Mayor Adams, Terry Jones and Linda Hagan voted in favor of the permit.
Ward 3 Councilwoman Linda Bowers was not present at the meeting to provide the deciding vote.
Mayor Adams said he did not understand why council members, such as Staples, asked for certain conditions on the permit when she voted against it.
"It doesn’t conform to the long range plan," Staples explained.
Taylor also explained why he voted against it.
"I said I wouldn’t vote for it if it didn’t have that fencing on the south side of the property," Taylor said.
Councilman Jones said he believed that requiring fencing along the entire property was unfair to the applicant. He made a second motion to table the issue for the next meeting to discuss it more.
The Council voted 5-1 in favor of tabling the issue for the next meeting. Mayor Adams voted against tabling it.