Citing the public outcry from the surrounding neighborhood and its “love for the community,” Bob Tomes Auto Group has abandoned its plans to build a parts distribution center at the southeast corner of Rockhill Road and North Brook Drive.
A vote on the rezoning of the 3.5 acre tract of land to allow for light industrial construction was to take place at Tuesday’s city council meeting, but Tomes Auto Group has withdrawn its zoning request.
“This is a democracy and the public has spoken,” Bob Tomes told TownSquareBuzz.com on Tuesday. “We certainly respect their opinion.”
Tomes is referring to the response from the residents who rallied in opposition of the 36,000-square-foot warehouse facility that was set to be built at the entrance to their neighborhood. Residents of the surrounding neighborhood started collecting signatures, eventually turning in a petition with 376 names to the city staff.
In addition, over 40 residents spoke out against the zoning request at the Nov. 5 City Council meeting. That night, the residents begged the council members to vote against the zoning request and “keep our neighborhood a neighborhood.” They also told the council that they feared for their children’s safety because of the potential traffic generated by the warehouse. The vote was tabled that night after Bob Roeder, on behalf of Tomes Auto Group, asked for more time to meet with the neighborhood’s residents.
Tomes told TSB that there would have not have been much traffic from the bulk sheet metal parts distribution center. “It was just parts for wholesale,” Tomes said. “It would not be high traffic. I assured everyone that there would be no Bob Tomes vehicles at that location. There wouldn’t have been any vehicles parked on the road.
“This is a democracy and the public has spoken.We certainly respect their opinion.” – Bob Tomes
“We wouldn’t be putting any traffic, zero traffic, none whatsoever on Rockhill Road,” Tomes said.
But Tomes said that he had to respect the opinions of “our neighbors” and abandon that location, despite its proximity to the Tomes Auto Group’s dealerships. “I am the one who really liked this site so much, because it was really so close and so efficient,” Tomes said. “We’re disappointed because it was so close. It’s eight-tenths of a mile. It’s a minute away from where we are. We would have just created additional taxes and hired more people.”
Two of the residents who spoke out against the warehouse’s proposed location, told TSB on Tuesday that they’re “thrilled with the decision.” Janet Cobbel, told TSB, “We appreciate the fact that Mr. Tomes listened to us and hopefully realized that inside of our neighborhood is not meant for an Industrial or warehouse use.”
Stacy Tritt, who told TSB in October that he had begun collecting signatures in opposition of the warehouse, shared Cobbel’s sentiments. “Mr. Tomes is a very generous person and we’re thankful for that,” Tritt said. “It’s just not the right place for it. It’s our neighborhood and we just don’t want to have anything like that here. We don’t have any animosity towards him at all.”
Both Tritt and Cobbel said that they were incredibly pleased by the turnout of those in opposition to the warehouse at the November 5 council meeting. “The outpouring was unbelievable,” Tritt said. “I didn’t imagine that many people would show up to the meeting.”
Tritt and Cobbel also said that the efforts to keep the warehouse out of their neighborhood brought the entire neighborhood closer together. “I will admit that it has been great to see our neighborhood come together in the way we have,” Cobbel said. “We have all met wonderful people throughout this ordeal and believe that this actually allowed us to meet neighbors that we hadn’t had the opportunity to meet and/or further strengthen relationships and friendships in this area since we all had something to lose.”
Tritt agreed, saying that he met many of his neighbors for the first time when he was out collecting signatures.
Now, Tomes said, they are going to be looking at other locations that won’t be located as close to the dealerships. “We are going to look at some other opportunities for the parts distribution center,” he said. “I think we’re going to have to look around and realize that it’s not going be as convenient so we’re going to have to cast a wider net in our search. We had some attractive plans that most communities would accept on the perimeter.”