Opponents of the proposed Bob Tomes parts warehouse came out in force on Tuesday night. They filled every seat in the McKinney City Council chambers. With all of the seats taken, they stood along the walls and spilled out into the hall. They had come to show the McKinney City Council that they did not want the parts warehouse in their neighborhood.
One by one, they took their turn, speaking with passion and conviction. They told the council members that the warehouse would be dangerous for their children and for their property values. They warned the council that each of their neighborhoods could be the next to get a warehouse if this precedent was set.
But despite more than 40 residents expressing their desire to keep the warehouse out of their neighborhood and three council members publicly stating that they would not be supporting Tomes’ rezoning request, the council ultimately tabled the vote until the Dec. 3 council meeting.
The issue at hand was a vote over a request from Bob Tomes Auto Group to change the zoning of 3.5 undeveloped acres at the southeast corner of Rockhill Road and North Brook Drive. The land is currently zoned for residential but Tomes is requesting the land be rezoned to allow for a 36,000-square-foot warehouse facility. The current plans call for 32,000-square-feet of warehouse and 4,000-square-feet of office space to be built on the site.
The residents of the surrounding neighborhood learned of Tomes’ request and began canvassing their neighborhood to educate their neighbors and collect signatures on a petition opposing the warehouse. Eventually they submitted a petition with 376 signatures to the city. The petition included the signatures of dozens of residents of other McKinney neighborhoods who worried that their neighborhoods might be the next to welcome a warehouse.
Forty of the residents of the neighborhood surrounding the proposed Tomes warehouse came to the city council meeting on Tuesday night to voice their opposition to the warehouse. They spoke of “keeping our neighborhood a neighborhood” and “protecting McKinney’s essence.”
They called the warehouse “a blight that we feel could spread.” One resident told the council that she wouldn’t allow her son to ride his bike near the warehouse because she’d be afraid of the traffic that would come from the warehouse. She told the council, “We’re not just a neighborhood, we’re a community,” and begged them not to allow a warehouse in their neighborhood.
Many of the residents praised Tomes as a vital member of McKinney’s community but one resident told the council, “This is business to the Tomes family, but it’s personal to my family.”
One of the concerns raised by several residents was another undeveloped 13-acre tract of land, located next to the subject property. The residents told the council that they worried that the 13 acres could become light industrial as well.
Those fears were calmed when Lew Richey spoke on behalf of the owner of the 13 acres. Richey told the council that the property’s owners were also opposed to Tomes’ rezoning request because they hoped to build homes on the land. Richey said that the property’s owners were currently speaking to three buyers about developing the land but fear that the buyers will walk away if the warehouse is built next door.
Joining the chorus of opposition was the city planning staff, represented by Director of Planning Michael Quint. Quint recommended denial of the zoning request due to the warehouse not conforming the city’s master plan.
Because of the city staff’s negative recommendation, a super majority vote (six of seven voting to approve) would be needed to pass the zoning request. Councilman Randy Pogue recused himself from the vote, meaning that all six of the remaining council members would have to approve the request for it to pass.
After all of the residents spoke and Mayor Brian Loughmiller read off twenty more names of those who opposed the warehouse but wished not to speak, the council members had their chance to weigh in. Loughmiller, Mayor Pro Tem Travis Ussery and City Councilwoman Geralyn Kever all praised Tomes for all that he and his family have done for the city of McKinney, but they all said that despite their feelings about the Tomes family, they couldn’t turn a blind eye to all of the residents who spoke out and signed the petition. Each of the three council members said that they would not support the warehouse.
But despite all of those who spoke in opposition and the three council members stating that they would vote against the warehouse, therefore ensuring that it would not pass, the vote was tabled.
That was because there was one voice that carried more weight than all of the rest. That was the voice of Bob Roeder, the attorney representing Bob Tomes Auto Group. Roeder told the council that his client needed more time to reach out to the surrounding property owners to try to garner their support and requested that the council vote to table the rezoning request. That was enough to get Councilman Roger Harris to put forth a motion to table the vote. That motion passed 4-2.
With the council set to reconsider the Tomes warehouse zoning request on Dec. 3, one resident shouted, “We’ll be back.”