A plan to begin selling cars at a muffler shop on Fifth Avenue South was rejected Tuesday by Fort Dodge zoning officials concerned that the property isn't big enough to hold more vehicles.
''We get into trouble allowing small businesses to put more on the lot than the lot can accommodate,'' said Steve Hoesel, a member of the Board of Adjustment.
The board voted to deny a permit called a special exception that would be needed to allow a vehicle display lot at The Muffler Center Ltd., 2907 Fifth Ave. S.
Angela Torres, the associate city planner, told the board that she worked with Mitch Frank, the president of the muffler business, and found that the property could meet all but one of the requirements for a special exception. She said vehicle display lots must be on property measuring at least a half acre, but there isn't that much ground available at Frank's business.
Torres said Frank unsuccessfully attempted to buy more property.
Hoesel suggested closing the driveway that leads from the business to Fifth Avenue South. He said that would create five or six parking spaces and eliminate a driveway that is very close to the intersection of Fifth Avenue South and 29th Street.
Frank said the owner of the property, Richard Sessler, would not agree to that.
Board Chairwoman Susan Hayden said that through her work as a real estate agent she is aware of many instances in which people considered buying property on Fifth Avenue South with the intention of starting a car dealership only to back away from the plan upon learning that the desired site wasn't at least a half acre in size. She said it would be a bad idea to allow a dealership on a lot that doesn't meet the size requirement.
''By granting this special exception, we'll be setting a precedent and we'll be revisiting this issue time and time again,'' Hayden said.
Matt Johnson, the general sales manager of Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota and a member of the board, abstained from the otherwise unanimous vote to deny the special exception on the grounds that the proposed car lot would be a competitor with his business.