Troutman Board of Adjustment approves special-use permits for new businesses
BY DEBBIE PAGE
Three petitioners came before the Troutman Board of Adjustment to request special-use permits for their proposed businesses on Wednesday afternoon, with two generating extensive discussion by board members and community members.
POOL ROOM COMING TO TROUTMAN
Board members voted 4-1 to give Jade Benfield a special-use permit for Mama J’s Pool Room at the former Willow Oak location in the old Galaxy shopping center. She plans to have 10 pool tables worth $50,000 in an upscale venue that will also serve beer and wine.
Benfield plans to renovate the existing unoccupied building to open up the space for an occupancy of 200 and include additional bathrooms and storage areas. She has met with fire and county building officials to ensure a quality, safe environment and promises a family atmosphere.
There are four other vacancies in the shopping center, and Benfield, a former real estate broker, hopes her establishment will attract other businesses to the spaces. “This will be a pool room of professional players, not a smoky pool hall like you saw on old movies,” she said.
Benfield said the facility will only be open to members of the American Pool Players Association (APAA) on Sunday through Thursday for tournament play. On Friday and Saturday, the facility will open to the public. She will offer a kids playing time without alcohol sales on Saturdays.
Benfield described the pool leagues as being similar to bowling leagues. APAA leagues can qualify players for the national tournament in Las Vegas, in which Benfield has competed. She distributed information on this international organization (http://poolplayers.com) to board members to assure them of the league’s legitimacy.
Board member Helen Harris expressed concern about security issues, especially relating to young people who congregate near a business in the shopping complex. Benfield assured the board that she will be be on premises, have ample security on hand, and will have cameras inside and out. She will also wand for weapons at the door.
Hours of operation would be 4 p.m. until tournament play ends on Sunday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, as allowed by state law for entertainment venues. A maximum of 60 people would compete in APAA tournament play per evening.
Board member Charles Delnero, in supporting the permit approval, said the “pros outweighed the cons. We need more businesses and places to go.”
Harris cast the only dissenting vote.
AUTO REPAIR BUSINESS APPROVED
Michael Drake asked the board for approval for a drivetrain repair business at 211 C Talley Street, an existing vacant property. His one-man operation, Drake’s Drivetrain, LLC, will operate solely inside, with all noise, odors and chemicals contained within the building to avoid being a nuisance to neighbors.
After concerns were expressed about chemical disposal and environmental concerns, Drake assured members that chemicals would be inside and disposed of in a double-walled container picked up by a licensed company.
The board voted 5-0 to approve Drake’s special use permit.
Trent Schnedler of Mid-State Recovery asked for a special-use permit to operate his auto repossession business in a leased building at 694 South Main Street owned by Tracy Garland. Trent actually opened without a permit in October, but since he was newly arrived from out of state, he he did not realize a permit was required.
Mid-State repossesses cars for large corporations and operates as a professionally run operation, according to Schnedler. Most cars stored in his 6-foot tall, fenced-in lot are there from 10 to 30 days before owners recover them or they are put up for auction by the finance company.
Garland, who also operates another business on the property, was served with a notice from the town and fined because of Schnedler’s omission.
Garland spoke at the public hearing against the permit, citing safety, security, and aesthetic concerns as well as ongoing legal proceedings against Schnedler and his company, which she blamed for hurting her business and further development of the property.
However, by law, the board could not consider her complaints in its deliberations. Only expert witnesses can enter evidence in a special-use permit hearing.
The board voted unanimously to grant Mid-State’s permit request, with the special condition that he add slats to create an opaque fence to block the view of the repossessed cars from the surrounding property area.
In other business, the board nominated Grace Beasley for an open extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) position. The nomination next goes to the Iredell County Board of Commissioners for final approval.