After more than an hour and a half of deliberation and hearing pleas from neighbors to refuse the permit, the Carbondale City Council on Tuesday denied a special use permit to allow Giant City Heating and Air Conditioning to continue to operate in an agriculture district.
The decision came after the Planning Commission unanimously denied approving the permit at a public hearing July 17 where three people spoke in opposition of the permit, along with two letters of opposition.
The city sent multiple letters to owner Randy Throgmorton notifying him he needed a special use permit to operate his business, because in the agriculture zoned area he can only work individually out of his home without a permit. Throgmorton has one employee besides himself and two trucks for the business at 1500 Neal Lane a residential street just east of Carbondale High School off Giant City Road.
If a permit was approved, city staff recommended conditions for Throgmorton including building a single family home as the primary residence, no expansion of the business, all work to be performed inside the building, storage material to be enclosed in the building and the special use permit could only be used for Giant City Heating and Air Conditioning.
Four neighbors in proximity to the business asked the council to deny the permit at Wednesday’s city council meeting, and three spoke in favor, including owner Randy Throgmorton.
A general complaint from neighbors was the issue of traffic on the gravel road. Throgmorton said the only traffic his business adds to the road is a few daily trips in the two trucks as it is a, “rolling business.”
Neighbor Mary Ekstrand voiced her frustration, saying she was concerned the business would expand and her neighborhood would become an industrial park.
“I am concerned about the pattern I am seeing,” she said.
Ekstrand showed pictures of weeds on Throgmorton’s property, saying he cleaned his property up only before applying for the permit. She said he needed to move to a Tax Increment Financing district with his business.
Throgmorton responded to comments that his business was affecting the neighborhood by saying it too was his neighborhood.
While Throgmorton made his case, neighbors hung their heads in visible frustration.
Councilman Don Monty said the history of the business has been troubling.
“The applicant was sent multiple letters by the city advising the applicant of the city code and the city received no response. Then a citation was issued and only on the court date did the applicant come to the city,” Monty said.
City Manager Kevin Baity said before the vote if the permit was not approved, Throgmorton could still run his business, but only by himself out of his home.
Councilman Lance Jack said it was important to note that if the permit was not approved, nothing would change with the business except that Throgmorton would have to fire his other employee.
“It would not change the neighborhood at all if we denied this,” Jack said.
Throgmorton then noted if he had to fire his employee, he would have difficulty keeping up with the business. He asked the council to support small businesses in the municipality and to grant him the permit.
The permit was denied with only Jack and Councilman Jessica Bradshaw voting not to deny the permit.
Ekstrand and another neighbor said after the vote they were glad the city is committed to neighborhoods.
Also at the meeting, the council approved the consent agenda including increasing the Police Department’s budget to purchase Personal Protective Equipment for $22,000. The department’s current equipment is outdated and needs to be replaced.