By: Jeremy Handel, Staff Writer
During their February meeting, planning commissioners voted to deny a request to remove a borderline property from the city’s revitalization district to make way for a used car sale business.
Former Woodruff resident Ben Wiley and his wife Christine requested the change to the district boundary to accommodate plans to open a used car lot on the site of Anita’s Flower Shop, which currently sits on the far northern border of the district.
In presenting the request, Commissioner Charlie Mae Gilliam read a letter submitted by Wiley, discussing his desire to return to Woodruff and get involved in the community. He and his wife negotiated a deal to purchase the property from Anita Justice.
“We fell in love with the building and were able to put a deal together with Anita pretty quickly,” Wiley told the board, adding that they are also looking for other properties and commercial opportunities in the area.
Commissioner Morgan Smith questioned whether the Wiley’s intended to run the business themselves or rent it to someone else to run the car lot and how many vehicles the lot would have on site at any given time.
Wiley, again emphasizing their interest in getting involved in Woodruff, told the commission they intended to own and operate the business, which would carry roughly 7 – 12 cars at a time. He also said the business’ focus would be on cars, rather than trucks, at an affordable price for the community.
Because automotive-related businesses are currently prohibited in the revitalization district, the Wiley’s needed the property removed from the boundary to move forward.
Commissioner Gilliam, in calling for a vote, expressed concern for setting a precedent for other automotive and prohibited businesses to request variances to the district. In a unanimous 3-0 vote (Commissioners Marshall Stevens and Clay Varner were not in attendance), the commission denied the request to alter the boundary.
Wiley told The Woodruff Times that they intend to continue with the purchase of Anita’s Flower Shop and intend to continue pursuing approval to operate the auto dealership on site. He indicated that after a review of the guidelines for the revitalization district, he believes the business is not necessarily prohibited.
The item will go to the Woodruff City Council at the February 23 meeting, with the planning commission’s recommendation to deny, for a final discussion and vote by the Council.