P&Z approves zoning change and specific use permit

The Italy Planning and Zoning Commission held two public hearings and approved two requests – a zoning change and a specific use permit at a meeting Monday evening.

The group approved a request from Loren Gray Investments, LLC, to permanently rezone 317 Poplar Street from single family residential (SF2) to two family residential (2F) following a public hearing.

Brad Yates, property owner, said he purchased the property about two years ago and tore down the existing structure. He presented commission members with drawings for a proposed duplex at that location.

Teri Murdock, city secretary/administrator, said she sent letters about the proposed zoning change and received no written complaints.

John Speer, a property owner near the proposed duplex location said he had initially had concerns until he saw the drawings. Now, Speer said he saw the duplex as an asset.

Tom Little and Jimmy Hyles, members, both had concerns that he had not allowed adequate off-street parking. Yates said that issue could be worked out by adding a circular drive in the front along with parking at the back of the property.

Following the public hearing, the commission approved the zoning change unanimously providing there was adequate parking.

The remainder of the meeting was more controversial as members of the community fought against a specific use permit for a scrap metal processing center at 320 N. Hwy. 77.

Currently, that property is zoned Light Industrial (LI) on approximately 8.154 acres.

Bob Powers, manager, and Hanna Braden, general manager and chief financial officer of Seville, addressed the commission and answered questions from the public.

Murdock said she sent letters to surrounding property owners but received no replies from residents.

Steven and Cindy Carter, Albert and Diego Garcia, Elmerine Bell and Rory Reeves expressed their concern for approving a permit for a scrap metal processing center.

Steven Carter complained about the additional noise, dust, hours of operation and the affects that would have on neighboring houses.

Diego Garcia said he didn’t want the entrance into the city to look like Hwy. 77 south of Waxahachie. He said they need to keep salvage yards south of Waxahachie.

Cindy Carter was concerned about trucks. She said she didn’t want 18-wheelers coming through day and night. She also pointed out the intersection onto Couch Street from SH 77 is not particularly safe and trucks going to and coming from the plant could cause issues with safety and traffic flow.

Albert Garcia said he is a long time Italy resident. He said they could live in another community but said they love Italy. He also said he likes to see new businesses coming into town but said a scrap metal processing center would end up looking like the salvage yards south of Waxahachie. He said the city removed the railroad overpass at Couch Street several years ago to improve the look just north of the cemetery.

Reeves said he hates to stop business from coming into Italy but said these types of businesses need to be located more in the shadows rather than at the entrance to the community.

All praised the upgrade they had done on the former Jamieson facility but said they feared what would happen should they receive this request.

Braden said this would be a prototype facility, a transfer yard, with most things contained inside the building. Currently, the facility is the home office for Seville and a storage facility for some items.

She said Seville scraps industrial plants around the nation and said most things are sorted and sold “on site,”

Hyles said it still boils down to being a scrap metal business and told Braden he thought she had something else in mind besides what she was telling the commission.

The company overseeing the processing center would be Asset Metal Recovery. The purpose of the request, Braden explained, would be to accept scrap metal items, sort them and sell to scrap facilities in Dallas.

She said they were starting with cleaning up smaller communities by taking in scrap from around the community. And then, if successful, expand to other areas.

She said there would be one truck scale and three peddler scales.

Little said the facility looks clean now but asked what it would look like in six months.

She said they would hire up to 10 employees, including office staff.

Braden said Seville worked with an environmental consultant and is knowledgeable about environmental concerns. She said it was not their intent to have their facility look like other scrap metal facilities. She said they would be tearing down machines, such as washing machines, and sorting them inside the plant. She said they would not be accepting automobiles and assured them there would not be any shredding.

The Garcias and the Carters expressed their concern about property values decreasing because of a facility of this type. Garcia said he hated being the guinea pig for Asset Metal Recovery.

Powers said they are not going to change the existing landscape at the site.

Brandon, addressing the commission, said she was asking for a chance.

There was some discussion about allowing the SUP for a specified amount of time and then review. Murdock said this was not legal.

Garcia said this request doesn’t just affect the surrounding property owners but the entire community.

Little eventually made the motion to approve the request with the stipulation that there would be no extended outside storage. Vincente Guerrero made the second. After some hesitation, Joan Grabowski, chair, voted with the pair. Hyles was the lone vote against the proposal.

Addressing Braden, Guerrero said, “We are taking you at your word.”

Hyles said, “Whether it changes or not, this is out of your control now.”

The city council will have final say about the request at its monthly meeting May 13.