CAMANCHE – The Camanche City Council voted to deny appointment of Justin McClure to two city boards one month after they denied his request to remove auto repair from the restricted list for home occupations in the city’s zoning ordinance.
The city council considered appointing McClure to the planning and zoning commission and the board of adjustment Tuesday. McClure said he applied to the boards to play a more active role in what goes on in the city and city government.
Council Member Amber Metzger said McClure’s Facebook posts concerned her. According to Metzger, the city told McClure that he cannot have an enclosed trailer, and he then said he was searching for an enclosed trailer. The city said McClure cannot have an auto repair business, and McClure posted an auto repair service with a phone number on Facebook.
“I’m just concerned that because of this whole issue that started off with something that wasn’t legal,” Metzger said. “I’m concerned that you think or feel that you can come on a board and make changes when those changes clearly have to come from council.
“And my other concern is, we spend a lot of time explaining things in detail, and then it’s like it goes in one ear and out the other because the posts don’t show that,” Metzger said. “It’s the complete opposite of what we’ve tried to explain the best that we can, trying not to make it personal.”
McClure told the council that when he made the posts he was upset at the beginning, before he had a chance to speak to the city council.
Camanche Mayor Trevor Willis said that as a member of any city commission McClure would be acting on behalf of the city. The city cannot afford McClure to be upset and make posts on Facebook.
Metzger said that was a hard lesson for her when she was first elected to the city council. “I am trying to bring positivity and growth in the community,” Metzger said. “And I understand that you were upset, and I hope that you can understand our point of view and that it’s not personal and move forward and help the community. That’s what I’m looking for board members. Someone that is going to bring something to the table, be positive and do something for this community.”
Camanche City Administrator Andrew Kida said McClure can post things because the city cannot restrict his first amendment rights. The city would never suggest they were going to restrict McClure’s first amendment rights.
McClure said he realizes that if he is allowed to serve on a city board he “can’t post all that stuff.” He said he has not posted anything regarding the issue in quite some time.
McClure told the council that he is currently not doing work out of his garage.
“I’m just going to the person’s house and doing it out of the bed of my truck,” McClure said. “I have no trailer. It’s in their garage. Most of them aren’t even in the city of Camanche.”
Willis said he’s concerned that McClure is continuing to work on cars in the city.
“You’re doing it in people’s homes,” Willis said. “For money, I’m assuming. That is not allowed in this town either. What concerns me is we have somebody who’s ... trying to skirt the system but then wants to be a part of the system. Explain that to me. How do you explain that?”
McClure said he looked at all city zoning laws regarding automotive work or any kind of work out of a home and didn’t see anywhere in the Code that he couldn’t work at the person’s property on their own vehicle.
“It’s their vehicle on their property,” McClure said. “They’re just having somebody do the work for them. I didn’t see anything in the zoning issue that said that was not allowed.”
Kida said the city would object because he is still doing auto work in a residential area.
“If you’re doing work on your own car in your own house that’s one thing,” Kida said. “If you’re doing it at somebody else’s house for a business for the purpose of conducting business that’s a whole different thing.”
Councilman Brent Brightman said he was against voting to approve McClure on the boards. The city heard “nothing but lies,” he said.
“The bottom line is, Justin, it’s unacceptable behavior for what you did,” Brightman said. “My vote is no. Period.”
Metzger said her vote was also no at this time. In the future, if things get better and McClure still comes to meetings is involved in the community and proves to the next council that things have changed, then the council would like his input and help, she said.
The council voted 3-0 to deny appointment of McClure to the planning and zoning commission ending January 2020 and appointment to the board of adjustment with term ending in 2023. Councilman Paul Varner was absent.