At the pulpit of the Lewisville City Council Chambers on Monday, Jose Salcedo made an impassioned plea to keep his version of the American Dream alive.
The owner of Alex Paint and Body Shop, located in the Old Town District on Main Street, Salcedo laid out his case for an extra parking lot. In his words, it was the difference between shutting down the business and keeping the lights on.
“I am a worthy entrepreneur, and I am living the American Dream,” Salcedo said. “Fifty-six restaurants and businesses have closed in Lewisville recently. I have seen that is because of a lack of foot traffic. I do not want to be just another business to close.”
After dueling presentations by the city and the community members, the council voted unanimously to deny the company from adding a parking lot to the property. Keeping with city ordinances in the Old Town master plan, the council said the company was acting in bad faith in negotiations and said it was attempting to “sham” the city staff.
The events in the chamber were only the tip of the iceberg in a saga that has been ongoing since 2013. Alex Paint and Body Shop, a staple in the Old Town district for years, originally bought a property in 2013. Since then, the company has worked with the city to attempt to find solutions to the lack of parking and the need for expansion. In 2016, the council allowed some creative solutions to parking, using a parking district, to keep the business growing. This agreement, however, was with the understanding that the Paint and Body Shop would add additional buildings.
According to the Planning and Zoning Board, the city immediately identified the company at risk for not being successful. The 0.43-acre property was deemed to be too small for a body shop, and these concerns were brought to the applicant. Despite the small space though, the company has flourished. Officials said they “commended the success and growth of the business.”
The expansion of a parking lot, however, is against the zoning ordinances that have been in place since 2010. For the council, this request did not act in the best interests of the entire community.
“I am in this chair to represent the best interests of the community. This came to us in 2016 and at that time we worked hard to find a middle ground to provide additional parking,” Coucilman T.J. Gilmore said. “Nobody is putting this business out of business, let me be clear. We did provide additional parking with the understanding that additional buildings would go into the facility. So either that was just made up to appease us in 2016 or you don’t want them in 2019, there is no other explanation.”
Gilmore pointed to the process that has been ongoing and further called out the negotiations that were ongoing for the past three years.
“Since 2010 we have been talking about how Old Town will develop. This is not news. Lastly, it does not build goodwill. It has either been a sham since 2016 and you are not willing to work with the community or you just do not care,” Gilmore said.
Multiple community members, some who owned their own business in the city, vouched for the expansion.
“The Body Shop is something I would be proud to be apart of Old Town. I understand the vision of Planning and Zoning, but what about taking into account the success and support of the business that needs to thrive if the old plan is going to come into play,” Glen Kimble, a business owner in town, said.