SPENCER – The City of Spencer expects to receive an update on New Edge Paint and Performance at its August meeting.
The City Council of Aldermen approved a conditional zoning permit for the business in December after it began operating from an unzoned facility for vehicle maintenance and repair.
At its meeting last month, the board raised the issue of persistent complaints that the company was not complying with the conditional agreement that let it stay open. New Edge owner Michael King says the city is trying to force him out, but the city says they’re trying to work with him.
Conditional zoning comes with a list of conditions, but the city’s main concern is parking policy. Employees and customers are free to park out front during the business day, but zoning dictates that outside of normal business hours there should only be one demo car out front.
The other issue raised at the July meeting was about business hours restrictions on the business, with a city councilor questioning whether the city should dictate the hours a business is open.
King recently said he was told he was in violation when he was at the facility early to work on documents and helped a stranded motorist put on a spare tire, as well as shortly after the business hours for a staff meeting. King also recounted putting up a banner recently before the city asked him to remove it for violating its sign ordinance.
On Thursday, Blount said the city only notified King when he violated the terms of the agreement, with no further enforcement action taken. He said he will make a presentation to the board at the August meeting to get their direction on the matter.
At the July meeting, Blount told the board that he could try to find changes to the deal with King and the board they could both live with or apply the zoning terms and effectively force New Edge to close. The council opted to let Blount work on some changes, but focused on fixing parking issues.
Blount said the only condition he tried to get King to agree to was the parking restriction. Blount said King pointed out to him that he would arrive early to do paperwork sometimes or that he might have meetings after hours. Blount said he told King it would be fine.
Blount said recently that King has complied with parking requirements and if it continues he will report it to council. Blount said he told King in writing that if he adhered to the parking restrictions, he would be happy to suggest the board approve some changes to help King run the business.
King, who had previously threatened legal action if the city shut it down, said he wanted to find a new location where he wouldn’t have the same zoning issues, but there aren’t any available. He invested tens of thousands of dollars in the location at 200 S. Salisbury Ave. which he currently rents.
He said the business was the only way he had to support his family. He counted police officers and a local judge among his clients. King said the lack of cars up front takes work away from him because when people drive past it feels empty. King said he felt he had to accept the stipulations imposed on him to keep his business open.
“They don’t want me here,” King said, referring to city officials.
Mayor Jonathan Williams said his feelings don’t factor into the decision unless there’s a split vote in council. He reiterated that the council had tried to work with King to keep his business open, noting that he had been asked if he could operate in person under the terms.
“We tried to reach a compromise with the surrounding community and with Mr. King,” Williams said.
Williams said some of the things King said are frustrating and the city has been trying to find a solution that will allow King to work.
Blount said he wrote in reports to the board that he thought King was a good mechanic and hoped the city could fix the problems.
“I’m tired of having to deal with this issue,” Blount said.
The meeting will take place on August 9 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers of Spencer Town Hall.