City officials admitted Wednesday that its own rules were not followed when a proposed lice removal salon was approved for the 500 block of Main Street.
A group of businesses opposed to the salon hired a law firm to investigate the city’s procedure in allowing the operation, and the resulting letter from that law firm resulted in the city council upholding the appeal.
That means the lice removal salon will be required to apply for a conditional use permit, and meanwhile the city will be adding such a use into its zoning code. The process should take at least 60 days, according to City Attorney Jeff Walter.
He told the council that over the past ten years, city staff has determined informally whether or not a particular business would fall within a certain zoning category. While that has been expedient, it does not follow the city’s own rules in how such determinations are supposed to be made, he said.
“I’m not too happy having our rules handed back to us in the bottom of the ninth,” said councilman Mark Ross, who was a proponent of the salon. “The applicants have gone so far down the track, only to be told that government is now changing the rules on them.”
“My concern is for the businesses that have been on Main Street for many years and have invested many thousands of dollars, and we’ve totally ignored their concerns,” said councilwoman Lara DeLaney. “I’m sorry for the investments they’ve made, but more sorry for investments that have already been made by the existing businesses. That’s where my interests lie.”
“I was concerned with the downtown business district when the medical marijuana clinic was proposed by you,” Ross shot back at DeLaney, at which point Mayor Rob Schroder asked for an end to “the grandstanding.”
Schroder said the entire process was a case study for city government. On the one hand, he said, there was the initial emotional response – his was “hell, no, not on Main Street” – and then the rights of the women who invested time and money into improving the space based on the city’s approval of the project, and finally having an outside attorney point out that the city had failed to follow its own rules in allowing the salon to operate in the proposed location.
The applicants will have to apply now for a conditional use permit while the city adds this particular use to its municipal code. The Planning Commission and City Council will have to approve the addition.