Monday, June 17, 2024

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Burlington OKs carwash along Rauhut Street

Despite some lingering opposition from neighbors, Burlington’s city council has approved a rezoning request that allows a vacant gas station along Rauhut Street to be converted into a carwash and auto detailing business.

Couched as a “limited-use” form of general business zoning, the new designation will also permit Manuel Diaz Marquez of Burlington to engage in a handful of other activities that the previous classification already allowed on the 1.3-acre lot which the Huffman Oil Company owns at 1038 Rauhut Street.

The council voted 4-to-0 in favor of this proposed change after resuming a public hearing that its members had recessed without a decision when they first took up the rezoning request two weeks ago.

The council had opted to postpone its vote at the time due to the intense criticism which the proposal had garnered from people connected to the historically black neighborhood where the former gas station is situated.

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Jamie Lawson, the city’s planning director, notified the council that the rezoning applicant had used the intervening two weeks to good effect when the matter came back up for consideration on Tuesday.

“I have been informed that there was a community meeting held on the 14th,” Lawson recalled before she briefed the council on the results of this gathering. “Previously, the applicant had requested 10 uses out of the overall 114 uses in the general business district.  Now, with the owner’s consent, they removed two of the uses.”

Lawson went on to specify the two abandoned uses as wholesale sales and a flea market. She added that the applicant still wanted permission for seven other activities which were allowed under the property’s previous neighborhood business zoning – as well as the operative use of a car wash and auto detailing service.

The council ultimately heard from two more people when it resumed the public hearing following Lawson’s remarks. These speakers included, Teresa Wiley, a resident of east Burlington who said that she had helped to facilitate the community meeting which the city’s planning director had mentioned.

Wiley proceeded to acknowledge that many of the proposed car wash’s critics were unmoved by this back-and-forth, which struck her as a justifiable reason to turn down the rezoning request.

“The purpose of zoning is to protect and enhance property values in the community,” she added. “Zoning also gives the community some control over land uses, appearance, quality of life, and its future…The community wanted to keep [the property zoned] neighborhood business; we want our neighborhood to stay family friendly.”

The council nevertheless heard a different perspective from Barbara Enoch-Daye, a second generation resident of east Burlington, who objected to friction that she said she’s noticed between the neighborhood’s black residents and the rezoning request’s Hispanic applicant.

“I’m going to stand in support of this young lady,” she added in reference to Diaz Marquez’s daughter, who has served as her father’s representative, “and that’s where I’m coming from.”

The council, likewise, stood with the applicant as it voted 4-to-0 to enact the proposed change in land use. Absenting himself from the vote was councilman Ronnie Wall, who was out of town when the council convened its meeting on Tuesday.



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