Update on embattled Spencer auto shop expected next week

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, August 2, 2022

SPENCER — The town of Spencer is expecting to receive an update on New Edge Paint and Performance during its August meeting.

The town Board of Aldermen approved a conditional zoning permit for the business in December after it began operating out of a facility not zoned for vehicle service and repair.

At its meeting last month, the board raised the issue of continuing complaints involving the business not living up to the conditional agreement that let it stay open. New Edge proprietor Michael King says the town is trying to force him out, but the town says it is trying to work with him.

The conditional zoning has a list of conditions tied to it, but the main concern for the town is the parking policy. Employees and customers are free to park out front during the business day, but the zoning stipulates outside of normal hours of operations there should only be one show car out front.

The other issue brought up at the July meeting was the business hour restrictions placed on the business, with one alderman questioning if the town should be dictating hours of operation for a business.

King said recently he has been told he was in violation when he was at the facility early to work on paperwork and helped a stranded motorist put on a spare tire, as well as shortly after hours for a staff meeting. King also recounted putting up a banner recently before the town asked him to remove it for violation of its sign ordinance.

As of Thursday, Blount said the town has only notified King when he was in violation of conditions of the agreement, with no other enforcement action taken. He said he will make a presentation to the board at the August meeting looking for their direction on the issue.

At the July meeting, Blount told the board he could try to work out some modifications to the agreement with King and the board they could both live with or enforce the zoning terms and effectively force New Edge to close. The board opted to let Blount work on some modifications but emphasized resolving the parking issues.

Blount said the only condition he has been trying to get King to agree to is the parking limitation. Blount said King did point out to him he comes in early to do paperwork sometimes or may have meetings after hours. Blount said he told King that would be fine.

Blount said as of recently, King has been complying with the parking requirements and if that keeps up he will report that to the board. Blount said he has told King in writing if he adheres to the parking limitations, he will be glad to suggest the board approve some modifications to help King run the business.

King, who previously threatened a lawsuit if the town shuts him down, said he wants to find a new location where he will not have the same zoning issues, but there are none available. He has put tens of thousands of dollars into the 200 S. Salisbury Ave. location he is currently renting.

He said the business is the only means he has to support his family. He counted police officers and a local judge among his clients. King said the lack of cars out front takes work from him because when people drive by it looks empty. King has said he felt he had to agree to the stipulations placed on him to keep his business open.

“They don’t want me here,” King said, referencing town officials.

Mayor Jonathan Williams said his feelings do not play into the decision unless there is a split vote on the board. He reiterated the board tried to work with King to keep his business open, noting he was asked if he could operate under the terms in person.

“We tried to reach a compromise with both the surrounding community and with Mr. King,” Williams said.

Williams said some of the things King has said are frustrating and the town has tried to work toward a solution that will allow King to operate.

Blount said he has written in reports to the board he believes King is a good mechanic and he hopes the town can work the issues out.

“I am tired of having to deal with this issue,” Blount said.

The meeting will be held Aug. 9 at 6 p.m. in the Spencer Town Hall board room.

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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