David Rhoads has been operating a “mobile” repair service with the town council’s blessing for seven years. It allows him to do work at customers’ residences, but not at his own.
Now Rhoads and his son, Tyler, want to build a shop. But when news of their intention reached members of the council, a review of the town’s home occupation ordinance was begun.
If adopted, it would prohibit home businesses for motor vehicle, trailer or boat repair shops; auto body and/or fender repair shops; manufacture, assembly or repair of heavy equipment, major appliances, engines or motors; junkyards; and mortuaries or crematoriums.
Castle Valley’s Planning and Land Use Commission (PLUC) was scheduled to discuss the issue at its meeting Wednesday, Feb. 6. A public hearing before that body is scheduled in March before the commission makes a recommendation to the Town Council.
Mayor Dave Erley, a voting member of the council, said council members were approached by neighbors saying Rhoads had begun doing automotive work at his home in violation of his mobile conditional use permit.
“Part of the issue for neighbors is the amount of traffic, and the amount of noise and the consistency of it,” Erley said.
He said sections of the town’s code are not clear about what is allowed as a home occupation, so the council wants to address the topic. He added that Rhoads has saved the town money by working on its vehicles and fire department vehicles.
“It’s not a black and white issue,” Erley said. “You have to respect private property rights both ways. Hopefully we can find some balance.”
PLUC chairwoman Mary Beth Fitzburgh said there also is the possibility of hazardous waste contaminating local water.
“We are all on wells here,” she said. “This is not about Dave. It’s about whether anybody can do this.”
Rhoads counters that he will do everything he can to mitigate potential negative impacts to the community.
“My son and I are willing to work with reasonable demands and will be sensitive to our neighbors’ concerns and exist with our community’s support,” Dave Rhoads said.
He added the proposed business would benefit Castle Valley residents by saving time and gasoline they otherwise would spend going to Moab for car repairs. It also would reduce traffic on state Route 128, Rhoads said.
“This will be a low-impact shop with all work done indoors,” he said.
The shop building would be double-walled and include floor drains with oil skimmers to eliminate pollution and prevent spills, he said.
“There will be special attention to containing and disposing of waste safely,” Rhoads said.
He would accept work by appointments only, which Rhoads said would minimize traffic in the neighborhood. He contends the current zoning ordinance has all the safeguards needed to assure that home occupations don’t adversely affect residential areas.
Continuing to operate a mobile business isn’t viable, he said, because it often requires him to work in unsafe conditions on ground that isn’t level, and means he has to work outside in the hot summer sun or the winter cold. The mobile business was a way to become known locally, he said, but it doesn’t allow him to do the volume of business he wants.
“If this amendment passes, we will be out of work and will have to commute to Moab,” Rhoads said. “That will contribute to air pollution, traffic and gas usage on the river road. That is not good for us, the environment or the people who will benefit from our work.”