Spencer board OKs restoration shop staying open

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, December 15, 2021

SPENCER — The Spencer Board of Aldermen signed off Tuesday on a conditional zoning that will let a local vehicle restoration and modification shop to keep its doors open.

The conditional rezoning of the property to vehicle service and repair is contingent on upgrades being made to the property at 200 S. Salisbury Ave. Vehicles for the business won’t be allowed to park on Second Street and customer vehicles on the property can only be stored while await service. All work on vehicles is to be performed inside the facility.

The town’s planning board approved the rezoning before it was sent to the board of aldermen, noting its consistency with the town’s future land use map.

Town Planner Kyle Harris read a statement from planning board saying the property was “vacant or underutilized for a substantial period of time.”

The board of aldermen voted to approve the zoning change in a 5-1 decision with some amendments. Pat Sledge was the only opposing vote.

The issue began months ago when New Edge Paint and Performance founder and property tenant Michael King  began operating the business while it was zoned highway commercial instead of the required vehicle service and repair zoning.

This led to a process of King petitioning to get the property rezoned so he could stay open. Some neighbors of the property spoke favorably of King at a community meeting and two other community members voiced concerns the business, which connects to the town’s historic district, would be a visual issue and had concerns about vehicles outside.

During the meeting, King told the board the vehicles parked on Second Street are not part of the business and all the vehicles the shop repairs are on the property, which is largely already fenced in.

He said the shop typically only keeps vehicles for a few days at a time, though some projects have been delayed because of supply chain disruptions that kept him from getting parts.

King said the shop does not perform routine repair service like brake jobs, rather the business focuses on restoration.

Mayor Jonathan Williams asked King how many vehicles would typically be kept at the business. King said currently  six vehicles are at the facility, with a maximum of seven to eight, and he tries to keep vehicles there for not more than about a week. He said the only delay is the hold up on parts.

“On an average, a car comes in, it’s done in three to seven days,” King said.

King said he has already put about $30,000 into the building to upfit it and bring it up to code. He plans to do more, but before the rezoning approval he said he did not want to put more money into parking and landscaping with the possibility of being shut down.

Aldermen Sam Morgan and Steve Miller defended the business. Morgan told the board it should seriously consider supporting the decision of the planning board.

“Spencer has lost too many of its businesses, it continues to bleed businesses,” Morgan said, adding the property is in the historic district but was zoned commercial.

Morgan said he thinks it would be a benefit to the town to support businesses within the confines of established ordinances.

Miller said he is concerned about what would happen to the property if they did not agree to rezone it and the new fencing on the property would help.

“He has a good business. He does good work,” Miller said. “He’s got the approval of his neighbors.”

Miller also credited King for putting his own money into upfitting the building.

Sledge also opposed adopting the town’s statement of consistency and reasonableness on the issue, questioning whether it met those definitions and the public interest. Alderman Andrew Howe said he believes the measure strikes a balance between protecting the town’s interests and promoting business.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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