CAMANCHE – The Camanche City Council has decided it will not grant a request from resident Justin McClure to remove auto repair from the restricted list for home occupations in the city’s zoning ordinance.
Camanche Mayor Trevor Willis said since auto repair is a restricted occupation for home occupations in residential zones, the Board of Adjustment had no authority to grant McClure a special use permit. Willis said the only way to make it legal for a resident to operate a car repair business as a home occupation is for the city to amend the ordinance.
“I told him (McClure) that he would have to speak to the council to try to get that ordinance amended,” Willis said. “But I also told him that it wasn’t a personal thing. That it wasn’t about him. That I’m sure he would keep his nice and neat but the next 10 folks might not. There is a reason we don’t allow automotive businesses in residential areas. So I guess where we’re at now is for you to try to speak with council members to see if you can convince them that we need to change that.”
McClure said his automotive repairs are done on the side, stating he has a regular full-time job. He said he mainly does oil changes, brake jobs, suspensions and tune-ups. McClure said he does not pull engines out of cars or pull cars apart. McClure said he performs the repairs on his three days off per week.
“It’s a way for me to relax after 10 hours of work on a normal work day,” McClure said. “It’s something I enjoy doing. I do it more for people that can’t afford to go to a shop because not everybody can afford a $400 bill for an alternator to be put in or something. There are a lot of people out there who just can’t afford a shop brake. And if somebody needs an oil change done at 8 o’clock on a Sunday night is there a shop open? Probably not. I can do that. I fill that void.”
McClure said he puts oil and antifreeze in large containers and takes them out to the county landfill, where he puts them in big containers and they are taken care of. McClure said he washes, cleans and reuses old rags if necessary. McClure said that, as of now, he puts very oily rags in his garbage. He said if there is another way he needs to dispose of them he is willing to dispose of them properly.
Councilman Brent Brightman noted the potential for spontaneous combustion.
“Well there’s just a thing called spontaneous combustion,” Brightman said. “That’s a concern of ours because you’re living next to homes where if you had a business you’re sitting on a corner block by yourself.”
McClure said he takes extra steps to make sure things do not happen. He said he is safety oriented and does not take unnecessary risks. McClure stated he will go above and beyond to ensure his house and the neighborhood are safe.
Councilwoman Amber Metzger said McClure received a letter two years ago and questioned why he did not address the council at that time.
McClure said he took the letter seriously because he refrained from having tow trucks used as much as possible.
“That’s my own fault and I do apologize to the city for that one,” McClure said. “But I’m here now and I want to do everything I can possibly do. I’m the type of person that once I see something I want I go after through all correct channels that I humanly possibly can until I’ve exhausted every other avenue.
Camanche City Administrator Andrew Kida said the request was not just for McClure’s case but to lift restrictions for residential zoning throughout the city.
“The request has to entail lifting the restriction on the entire city for all R-1 zoning,” Kida said. “So to accommodate his request it would require you to open up all repair for the entire city for R-1 zoning. And it would also necessarily include R-2 zoning. It would include it for any zoning.”
Councilman Paul Varner questioned how the council would structure an ordinance or resolution, stating there would be people the city could not trust or be sure they would hold up their end of the bargain. He also expressed concern that someone dumping one load of oil down the sewer would compromise the city’s sewer system.
“If we had everybody handling the situation like you are and I’m sure you’re going to, I would say yes,” Varner said. “But once again I have to bring up if something is dumped into that sewer, that’s going to cost the city a lot of taxpayer money to clean up.”
Willis added he believes granting the request would open the city up to potential problems.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that you will abide by the rules,” Willis said. “I have no issue with that. But it’s not you I’m worried about...It’s a can of worms that I just don’t think we can afford to open.”