Sunday, September 21, 2014
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Palmhurst denies re-zoning request for business

PALMHURST — A family’s request to revamp a defunct dancehall along 3 Mile Line Road was denied this week, prompting family members to say they had no other options in paying $5,000 for their taxes.

Norma Perez said she wanted to re-establish her husband’s dancehall on a property the couple had owned for over 15 years. Before his death she said he had wanted to reopen the business and expand on the already existing building of their property that sits in between Trosper and Los Ebanos roads.

In 2005, when the City of Palmhurst annexed county property from its extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ, into the city, officials said the Perez’s property switched from a business zone to residential after the business was inactive. Had the business still been in operation at the time of the annexation, the property would have continued being a business zone. But because of a lull in the business, its zoning was changed, City Attorney Darrell Davis said.

“Those are the rules about grandfathering,” Davis told the Perez family.

Idania Perez, the couple’s daughter, said the family had no other option for the property. Making it a business was the only way the family could have the property pay for itself.

“We can’t do anything with that building,” Idania Perez said. “It made us good money.”

At a public hearing with the city’s planning and zoning board, residents and board members said they didn’t want a business in the area.

Mary Botello who bought property here 12 years ago and built a new home about five years ago said she’d hate to see her home, a future gift to her three-month-old granddaughter, become an unsafe property, attracting even more graffiti the abandoned building already has.

“I don’t see that a dancehall would be prosperous in that area,” Botello told the board.

One of Botello’s neighbors, Ana Gallardo, agreed and said there’s really no viable option for any business in that three-acre lot. Gallardo asked the board to offer the city’s west side the same treatment east side residents get in the city’s refusal to allow any businesses near homes and neighborhoods.

Richard Treviño, a board member for the planning and zoning board, suggested the Perez family subdivide the property and sell to potential homeowners.

“We need to decide, for the west side, how development will go there,” Treviño said. “I don’t think we’re doing enough. This is a little difficult because this isn’t an area in transition.

Mark Richards, the board’s chair, said the city needs to be more progressive in addressing the area’s needs. Treviño suggested a strategic long-term plan for the community.

Any property owner that wants to establish a business here has to go through the proper channels, officials said. Already, the city has begun cracking down on property owners that have established makeshift car sales lots without the permission of the city. City Manager Lori Lopez said code enforcement has given one such property owner until Nov. 30 to remove the vehicles on their property if they aren’t going to request that they be re-zoned as a business.

“I feel for these people,” Mayor Ramiro Rodriguez said after the Perez family abruptly left the meeting when the zoning board voted to not recommend a zoning change. “I think they are entitled to subdivide three lots and sell. It’s something salvageable.”

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