The Bettendorf City Council approved the first reading Tuesday of an ordinance rezoning property on 53rd Avenue to allow the construction of a Q-C Auto Service Center.
The property at 2421 53rd Ave., located southeast of the intersection of 53rd Avenue and 18th Street, is zoned for retail use, but the developer, Julia Inc., is seeking to have the zoning changed to general business to allow for the construction of a Q-C Auto Service Center and a small retail and office development.
NAI Ruhl & Ruhl Commerial, which represents the owners of the nearby Crow Ridge Plaza shopping center, sent a letter to the city in December objecting to the proposed zoning change.
In his letter, Charles Ruhl Jr. wrote that the owners of Crow Ridge Plaza sold the property in question to MidwestOne Bank with the understanding that the property would be used for a bank branch, and did not anticipate an auto repair shop being part of the use of the land.
Community Development director Bill Connors said the bank decided not to build on the lot.
Because the Crow Ridge Plaza shopping center represents more than 20 percent of the neighboring properties, a vote of at least six of the seven council members in favor of the zoning change was required for it to move to a second reading.
The council voted 6-1 in favor of approving the first reading of the zoning change, with Alderman Lisa Brown, at large, casting the dissenting vote.
Representatives of some of the other businesses in the area, including Big 10 Mart, ORA Orthopedics and Habanero's wrote letters to the city supporting the proposed rezoning.
Although he voted in favor of the project, Alderman James Stewart, 5th Ward, voiced several concerns, including the impact that noise from the business would have on the surrounding area.
While prospective business owner Dan Elias has agreed to put sound-reducing doors on the business, Stewart asked if it would be possible to keep the doors closed while repair work is going on.
Elias said the shop would not be air conditioned, and someone would have to monitor the doors at all times to make sure they remained closed.
"I've done everything I feel is necessary to minimize the sound," he said.
Stewart also said he had "significant concerns" about rezoning the property and then placing restrictions on it tailored to a specific project. He said he supports local business and wants to see the city's commercial tax base grow.
"Not at all costs, though," he said.
Alderman Debe LaMar, 3rd Ward, said she had concerns about the odor from the business.
Elias said he didn't think it would be a problem, and said the house nearest to the property is more than 300 feet away.
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He also said he believes he has agreed to several conditions to try to make sure the nearby residents would be happy.
"Look around you," he told LaMar. "They're not here."
Alderman Dean Mayne, 1st Ward, said the city has ways to remedy noise problems, and said Elias seemed to be going "out of his way" to accommodate the neighboring businesses and residents.
Elias' attorney, Bob Gallagher, who is the father of Mayor Bob Gallagher Jr., said the project is an opportunity for the city to control what is built on that corner.
"There's a lot of things you don't want on that corner," he said.
Alderman Scott Naumann, 4th Ward, said the fact that many of the nearby residents said they supported the project had helped convince him to support it, too.
LaMar said while she felt in her heart that the project was not a good fit for the property, she commended Elias on doing his homework on the project.
Alderman Tim Stecker, 2nd Ward, said while council members could critique every project that comes before them, the important thing was that the majority of the businesses and residents in the area were supportive of the project.
Three votes by the council are required to approve the rezoning.