| By Jason C. Mattox
A Batesville businessman who is close to losing his conditional use permit will be given a chance to address the board on May 16 before action is taken.
Jimmy Bishop, who owns and operates a garage at 350 Highway 51, appeared before the board at their meeting Tuesday, April 18 for violations of a conditional use permit.
Several city leaders said they noticed a large number of cars around the business as well as work going on outside of the building.
"The permit says he has to do all of the work in the building and can have no more than five cars on his lot at any time," code enforcement officer John McCollum explained.
McCollum was asked to monitor the situation last month and appeared before the aldermen with his report.
He told city leaders during their first meeting in May that Bishop was in compliance with his conditional use permit some days and in violation on others.
"Sometimes I go by there and there’s only four, then there are times he has six to 12 cars outside the business," he said.
Code Enforcement Office Administrator Pam Comer said the business would not face this scrutiny if it was in a C-3 Zone, but due to the conditional use permit in a C-2 Zone he was required to follow rules set forth by the board.
Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger said he felt like Bishop had been given a chance by the board and ignored that opportunity.
"I think sometimes we are soft-hearted people when it comes to variances and conditional use permits, but it just seems to me that this is in the wrong place," he said.
"We gave them several chances to get in compliance, and now it’s time to do something about it," Dugger added.
Dugger told other board members he was ready to revoke the conditional use permit.
"He sat right here last time and told us he was selling cars without a license," he said. "That’s obviously not allowed by his permit."
Dugger did say he would like Bishop to be notified that he would be required to move his business.
"I don’t want to close him immediately, but it is time that we do something about this situation," he said.
Ward 4 Alderwoman Bobbie Jean Pounders suggested closing the business in June.
Mayor Jerry Autrey asked McCollum his thoughts on the matter.
"I am inclined to agree with Mr. Dugger on this matter," he said. "I really think he has been given long enough."
Comer added that if the board continued the conditional use permit, her office should be given permission to levy fines for the violations.
"Right now, we can go talk to him or right him letters, but it really only amounts to a slap on the wrist," she said. "We need to do something about it."
Dugger said there was no need to postpone the inevitable and move forward with revoking the permit.
"I’m saying the damage has already been done," he said. "If he wants to, we can allow him to come in and give us cause to why we should let him continue."
After brief discussion, Dugger’s original motion was withdrawn and replaced with one to address the matter on May 16.
Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell was advised to prepare a letter from the board to Bishop.
"I think a letter from the City Attorney might be the best way to go," Comer said of the decision. "We have sent him letters, and they haven’t done us any good."
Mitchell said the letter would state that a decision on the matter will come at the next board meeting whether Bishop decides to appear or not.
"It needs to be clear that the board will address the matter one way or the other," he said.