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Chase City takes step to add downtown body shop / May 08, 2019
The Chase City Planning Commission agreed on a 2-1 vote to ask Town Council to make a zoning ordinance charge to allow body shops as a permitted use in B-3 business districts, with approval of a conditional use permit.

Voting for the recommendation were chairman MJ Colgate and James Bohanan. Cynthia Gordon was the lone “no” vote.

Town Manager Angela Lawrence said the discussion about changing the ordinance was prompted by a request from Larry West to move his body shop operations from his home to 503 North Main Street, the downtown location of the former Muddy’s Wing House Bar and Grill.

Lawrence said Thursday’s public hearing was to consider adding body shops as a permitted use in a B-3 business district, not to consider the merits of West’s request. If the use is permitted, she said, another public hearing will be required before West can receive a conditional use permit and begin operating the body shop.

John Sedowski, a Chase City resident for the past 30 years, said the change would be “another step toward destroying the town.” He did not want to see a commercial auto body service operating on the main thoroughfare in downtown.

Diane Slate, who lives across the street from the building on North Main Street, said she was opposed to allowing body shops to operate in downtown Chase City because of their impact on property values as well as the noise and fumes that would come from such an operation. “If the plan is to clean up the town, that’s [a body shop] not the way to go,” she said.

While she was unable to attend the meeting, Twyla Gregory sent in a written statement expressing her objections. She wrote, in part:

“I own the properties known as 410 & 414 N. Main St….I definitely realize Chase City needs new businesses, however, I do not think this is a proper location for such [a body shop] especially if you wish to establish a historic district.”

She also worried that the 503 N. Main Street building was not “ structured” to operate a body shop, and would need extensive modifications to contain the fumes from paint and lacquer and the noise from the power and pneumatic equipment used in the business.

Two residents, both of whom work for Larry West, expressed support for the change. Tim Newcomb pointed out that Chase City has existing eyesores, but that West’s operation would not be one. Diane Wilkerson added that West “keeps his [workplace] clean,” noting, too, that West’s body shop would not be an eyesore.

The proposed code change must now go to Town Council for approval. The soonest that can happen will be at their regular meeting on May 13. If the zoning ordinance is amended, West can then apply for a conditional use permit , which must be approved by Town Council before he can move his operation to downtown.

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