As the city prepares to open its central crossroads redevelopment, one of the businesses moved from the intersection for the adjacent road work is looking for a new home again.
On Thursday, the Springboro Planning Commission rejected proposed changes to the local zoning code that would have permitted Pro Automotive to continue to operate at 205 East St. in the city’s Central Business District, its location since 2017.
More than two years ago, the auto repair business made a “temporary” move there as prior owner Joe Davis and the city negotiated the terms of his relocation from the northeast corner of Central and Main in anticipation of the intersection improvements.
In December 2016, Davis said he was moving temporarily about 500 yards south to 205 East St.
Davis said he planned on one move to a new permanent location, but was delayed by problems with a piece of city property off Central near I-75 he considered purchasing.
Davis never moved. In December, an employee, Taylor Sutton, took over the business.
The city has declined to further extend agreements enabling the auto repair business to operate there, in violation of the zoning code.
Thursday’s vote was the planning commission’s second rejection of a solution proposed by Sutton, his father and Todd Music, the property owner. Earlier this year, the commission advised Music and the Suttons they were opposed to a change in the map designating the land use permitted on specific city properties to permanently permit auto repair at 205 East St.
On Thursday, Beck Iverson, a city council member and chair of the planning commission, said the proposed code change was also unacceptable.
“Anything that this body would approve would apply for the entire district,” she said.
After the meeting, Planning Consultant Dan Boron explained the change would have permitted auto repairs anywhere in the area, also home to the most of the city’s historic buildings.
If the code was changed, homeowners living in this part of town could be subject to problems, such as noise, not just from Pro Automotive, but other auto repair businesses opening in the area.
Although the business is in the former fire station for Springboro and Clearcreek Twp. and also served as the township maintenance garage, Boron said no other auto repairs have been permitted in the central business district since the school bus garage and a quick oil change business left more than a decade ago.
Boron said the code was there to protect residents. The temporary exemption was granted to keep the intersection project moving forward.
“The clock was ticking,” he said.
Neighbors and property owners have spoken up for and against Pro Automotive.
Last week, Sutton said he wanted to remain on good terms with city officials, while trying to avoid the time and expense he would have to invest in moving the business.
While aware the extended agreement expires in November, Sutton said he expected to be able to work something out with the city.
“I wouldn’t have bought it if I didn’t think I could get it done,” he said. “I’ll be staying in Springboro.”
Sutton and Music said the city could have found a compromise helping the long-time local small business.
Music said the process weighs against the staff or commission backing any variance from the local code.
“It’s kind of predetermined,” he said.
Music said the code ill-served local residents who turned to Pro Automotive for repairs. (The parking lot was full last week).
Music and Boron agreed it was time to revisit the 10-year-old plan governing land use in the city.
Unless Music and Sutton decide to withdraw their code-change request, the issue will prompt a public hearing, preceding a city council vote.
In other news:
On Wednesday, the Springboro Chamber of Commerce announced plans to move into the Performing Arts Center counted on to anchor the Wright Station development. The mixed-use development is replacing the old Springboro IGA Plaza on the northwest corner of Ohio 741 and Ohio 123, Central Avenue and Main Street in city limits.
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