After several weeks of back and forth, it appears Jordan will not be the ninth and newest location for Bobby & Steve’s Auto World, a business that provides towing, auto repair, car wash, gas and food services across eight metro locations.
The news came Monday night after the Jordan City Council denied an amendment to the city zoning code that would allow the conditional use of a towing service with outdoor vehicle storage in the city’s Highway Commercial District.
Bobby & Steve’s own land on the north side of the intersection of highways 169 and 282, where they were hoping to develop a tow yard and truck stop after the Highway 169/282 interchange project is completed. The project doesn’t have a start date at this time, but is expected to take place sometime after 2021.
City zoning codes, however, limit towing businesses to the General Industrial District, which is located north of the parcels owned by Bobby & Steve’s. At an Oct. 8 meeting of the city planning commission, City Councilman Robert Whipps voiced opposition to the proposal and made a motion to deny the request. That motion failed a 2-3 vote.
The commission ultimately voted 4-2 in favor of allowing the tow yard to operate in the Commercial Highway District if it is accompanied by an already permitted use — such as a truck stop. Upon that recommendation, the issue was brought before the city council Monday night.
“I personally do not like the idea of a tow yard being the first thing you see coming off the highway into Jordan,” Councilman Jeremy Goebel said.
Goebel, who’s served on the council for more than a decade, said CUPs have been denied for multiple businesses in the Commercial Highway District over the years due to aesthetic reasons.
“I still believe that,” he said.
City Planner Lucinda Meyers said the district is intended for property that is of high commercial value and follows aesthetic considerations since highway commercial districts are generally high-traffic gateways into the community.
“We established the design manual for this district in order to ensure that heightened aesthetics are achieved,” Meyers said.
Terry Stier said he likes the vision Bobby & Steve’s representatives presented at the September planning commission meeting. Since that meeting, however, there have been disagreements between some councilmembers and business representatives regarding what was presented. Whipps asked Stier to clarify if representatives proposed a tow yard or both a tow yard and service center at that meeting.
“My recollection was they wanted to start with a tow yard first until the overpass was completed, then when the overpass was completed they wanted to further expand Bobby & Steve’s businesses,” Stier said.
Goebel pointed out that if the zoning text amendment is approved, any business in the Highway Commercial District could operate a tow yard or vehicle storage.
“So in theory, Clancy’s (Bar and Pizza Parlor) could put one right next to their building,” Goebel said.
Mayor Tanya Velishek asked Whipps why he was strongly opposed to the proposal during planning commission meetings.
“If no other place in the entire Scott County is doing this, I think it tells you how appropriate it is to have this done in your Highway Commercial District,” he said.
Whipps told the council that no one on the planning commission could think of a time when a business asked the city to make substantial changes to the zoning code years in advance of a proposed project.
“We’re talking about making a zoning amendment for things that may happen years down the road,” he said.
He was also concerned zoning changes could improve the property value of Bobby & Steve’s parcels before construction begins on the interchange and the possibility of eminent domain comes into play. Overall, Whipps said he didn’t think it was appropriate to approve the proposal before the interchange was complete, particularly since representatives said business would not commence until after that time.
Following a failed motion by Councilman Will to approve the first reading of the ordinance, Whipps made a motion to deny the request. The council voted 4-3 to deny the request, with councilmen Will, Stier and Bill Heimkes voting in opposition.