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Spring Hope board to weigh zoning change to allow new downtown auto shops

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SPRING HOPE — Commissioners are set to consider allowing new automotive businesses in the central business district during Monday’s town board meeting.

Harold Denton, who owns Denton Automotive on Pine Street, has requested a change to Spring Hope’s zoning rules. If approved, the change would open the door for any automotive shop that receives a special use permit.

For many years, Denton parked vehicles awaiting repairs along Pine and Franklin streets. Some residents complained.

“The parking of vehicles at Denton’s Automotive Repairs has been an ongoing issue over the years,” said Town Manager Jae Kim.

The state ordered Denton to stop parking vehicles along the street in August 2017.

“Please have all vehicles removed from the right of way within 30 days of receipt of this letter and cease parking vehicles and equipment in the right of way,” reads a letter signed by N.C. Transportation Department District Engineer Bobby Liverman.

To alleviate parking issues, Denton recently purchased a long-vacant lot adjacent to his business. 

The town grandfathered Denton’s business when it established the central business district, but the new lot isn’t covered. The parcel is zoned for residential use, but even if rezoned, automobile storage wouldn’t be allowed due to the business district rules. 

Denton asked the town to amend its zoning ordinance to allow automotive repair and storage within the central business district by special use permit.

“(Denton’s) business has been a mainstay within the community and town staff met with him to discuss what possible resolution could be made to make both parties content for a harmonic economic and entrepreneurial environment,” Kim said.

The town’s planning board determined last week that Denton’s request is consistent with the town’s land use plan, as the plan recognizes the need for accommodating economic growth and fostering a strong local economy.

The planning board recommends that any new automotive repair shops have a maximum of four service bay doors and that no vehicles associated with the business be parked in the street, the main issue with Denton’s in the past. Other recommendations include no dismantling of vehicles for salvage, no storage of impounded vehicles, no outside speaker system and a requirement that the property must be surrounded by a fence that blocks public view of the stored vehicles. 

The town board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Monday for its regular monthly meeting. Kim said the rezoning request will be on the agenda.

If commissioners approve his request, Denton will have to rezone and combine his parcels.