In 2009, Zbyneck Frank Omelka bought the former Dennis Kitchen and Bath property at 1010 South Main St. in Mount Airy.
The property, which is in a residential area, was granted an exception for the kitchen and bath business to operate there during the time it was open.
However, the special exception granted by the town had expired by the time Omelka, who lives in Damascus, bought the property from an auction.
State tax records show the building was purchased for $650,000 in 2009, but Omelka said that was not accurate and declined to disclose how much he did pay.
Now, Omelka is planning to turn the property into a sign and limited advertising business, but can no longer operate a shop there under the property’s revised zoning.
Legislation now being considered by the Mount Airy Town Council, however, would have kept the residential zoning in place at the property for five years after a business stopped operating.
“We have an individual who’s willing to take his time and money and invest it in the town to give us a business. ... I think it would be a shame for us to hold that back,” said Councilman David Blais, who introduced the change.
The new proposed ordinance has been referred to the planning commission, which will make a recommendation. Council members will discuss the matter during a special session Oct. 15.
The planning commission denied a request from Omelka to change the zoning for the commercial use special exception for the property, before it came to the board.
Councilman Chris Everich, who opposed the amendment, said he’s concerned about granting a special exception in a residential zone for one business.
“I’m opposed to be modifying our code to meet a specific, very narrowly defined interest to serve one person,” he said.
Everich said that the property has several different existing uses, including a professional office space, a day care facility, and a veterinary clinic.
Several residents at the meeting asked for the council to approve the amendment, but Phyllis Reed of Mount Airy said the business could disturb the neighborhood.
“I think you’re opening a can of worms for all kinds of problems,” she said. “I’m just very concerned about who’s going to enforce [the business].”
Councilman Bob King said the town should encourage economic development.
“Recently the town has been hemorrhaging businesses,” said Councilman Bob King. “I think we need to support the businesses that are here.”
Omelka said he would be willing to follow any regulations the town would give him in regards to the uses of the property.
“I’m not a bad person,” he said. “I would love to work with you guys.”
He also said he would be willing to spend up to $20,000 fixing water and sewer issues on the property.
The vote for the text amendment was split, with Everich and Councilman Scott Strong voting against the ordinance and King and Blais voting for it. Council President Peter Helt was not present for the meeting.