Bill Shepard discusses his zoning request with the city Planning and Zoning Commissioners during Tuesday night’s meeting at City Hall. The commissioners voted 4-2 to deny Shepard’s request for a second time. (Randal Seyler Photo)
The Planning and Zoning Commission once again denied a zoning change request, which would allow a dispatch and maintenance facility to be built within the city limits, by a vote of 4-2.
The property owners, Bill and Mary Shepard, will appeal the commissioners’ decision on Thursday, and the matter will move on to the full City Council in September.
The Shepards want to change the zoning of their property at 1602 East Second St. The zone change was requested to allow the property to be used for storage of oil field service and rental equipment at the site, according to a meeting abstract provided to the councilors in their meeting packets.
A buyer for the property wants to create a new dispatch and maintenance facility in Roswell, which will be a building and yard to park and maintain vehicles between oil field trips on a daily shift basis, and to rent equipment to third parties such as oil field lighting, generators, pumps and other outdoor field hardware consistent with I-1 zoning, according to a memo from Manatt & Company Realtors, who represent the Shepards.
Several residents who were against the rezoning were in the audience and they spoke their minds before the commission.
“I have my home and business east of this property, and his property doesn’t flood because it drains onto my property, and everyone else’s property,” resident Diana Tuttle said.
On July 31, the planning commissioners voted 7-0 to deny a request for a zone change from commercial C-2 District to industrial I-1 or a special use for outside storage in a C-2 District.
However, during the July meeting, the commissioners met in closed session, which meant they had to meet and revote on the matter. City Attorney William Zarr was on hand Tuesday night to oversee the meeting and to ensure the commissioners followed the Open Meetings Act.
During the July meeting, the commissioners went into a closed session to discuss the matter, which they are allowed to do as an adjudicative body, but they did not state subject matter of the closed session, and when they returned from closed session, they didn’t make a motion to resume the regular meeting but just came out continued the meeting, Zarr said.
“What they did was not in accordance with the Open Meetings Act, then that makes their actions not valid,” Zarr said. “It was my recommendation that they go back and do it again.”
Commissioners David Storey and Bruce Gwartney voted in favor of granting the change of zoning.
Commissioners Riley Armstrong, Shirley Childress, Toby Gross and Eddie Carrillo voted against the change.
Zarr instructed the commissioners that their findings should support the reasons provided to the commissioners by City Planner Marlin Johnson, whether for or against.
Armstrong said he was against the change from Commercial to Industrial because there was already Commercial zoning in the area, and he did not think the requested usage fit into the current usage of properties in that area.
“The protests also weighed heavily in my decision,” Armstrong said.
The other dissenting commissioners concurred with Armstrong’s reasoning.
Zoning Administrator Louis Jaramillo asked that the appeal documents be in his office by Thursday so he could begin the process.
Bill Shepard said he was willing to work with any of the neighbors to make the property rezoning acceptable to them.
“I am more than happy to put in detention ponds, and I will work with anyone,” he said. Shepard noted that the property is already zoned Commercial-2, and he noted the property is entitled to 26 different usages under the current zoning. He also noted that there is Industrial zoning along that same stretch of Highway 380.
“This is the last piece of property on Highway 380 that is in the city limits,” Shepard noted.
“I think it has been convoluted in this case,” Armstrong said. “This is not any different than any other case of rezoning, yet we are being told it is different, and it’s not.”
“All this time, we’ve just made a motion and that has always been good enough,” Armstrong said. “Now all of a sudden, it’s different. So there you go.”
City Editor Randal Seyler may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 311, or firstname.lastname@example.org.