A proposed special ìoverlayî district along the Paluxy River-Barnard Street corridor and U.S. Highway 67 received so much opposition from businesses and citizens at a public hearing Monday night that the Glen Rose City Council decided not to approve it.
The vote was 3-2, with Mayor Pro Tem Johnny Martin and council members Chris Bryant and Tom Osborn voting against the overlay and members Sue Oldenburg and Bob Stricklin voting in favor.
A parade of business owners told the council that the overlay would impose too many restrictions, infringe on their property rights and bring "too much government" to business. There remained a lot of confusion about prohibited uses in the district and regulations regarding development, even though council members and members of the Planning and Zoning board assured those concerned that the overlay would be less restrictive than the city's existing building ordinance.
Ernest Reinke, co-owner of the Inn of the River along with his wife, Shirley, said he felt the overlay would "put an undue hardship on people wanting to come to Glen Rose to start a business."
Ken Simpson, who owns the Simply Suds laundromat, said he thought passing the overlay districts would make Glen Rose more economically depressed and hurt small businesses.
Many business owners said they opposed the overlay because it would add too many complications to their abilities to expand, remodel and sell their businesses.
But Bryant pointed out that the overlay was supposed to simplify requirements and preserve Glen Rose's small-town feel and beauty.
"It actually protects the business owner," he said. But he added that so much opposition concerned him.
"When you've got this many people opposing, something is not right," Bryant said.
The stated purpose of the Highway Overlay District is to "protect and enhance Glen Rose's image" along the city's main business corridor and its unique Paluxy River area and Barnard Street corridor, implementing the vision established with the city's Comprehensive Plan, the masterplan the council approved to guide its growth into the future.
The Highway Overlay District, for example, also prohibited certain uses, such as boat sales, mini-warehouses, incinerators, trailer parks and taxidermists.
One of the biggest magnets for opposition was the requirement that a minimum of 60 percent of all front building facades include limestone, rustic wood, painted wood, stucco, brick or fiber cement siding. The district also regulated types of windows, roof pitch and other architectural elements. It also required landscape buffers and controlled signage. All freestanding signs built after the overlay's passage would be monument signs. Screening would be required for trash receptacles, loading areas and outside storage.
Exceptions could be made by requesting an "alternative standards" approval.
In the end, though, the majority of the council agreed with the overlay's opponents.
Martin said he thought it simply created too much bureaucracy and too many hoops for people to jump through.
"I think it will stifle building," Martin said.