Sherman Collision Repair recently got permission to add a parking lot for its property in the former right of way of Hester Street.

Sherman’s Planning & Zoning Commission recently approved a zoning change, specific use permit and site plan for the auto repair and body shop to install a parking lot at 1330 S. Austin St. and part of the former Hester Street right of way between Olive Street and Dulin Street. Sherman Collision Repair is located at 1317 S. Sam Rayburn Freeway.

“We’re growing right now at a pretty good pace,” Sherman Collision Repair’s Dwight Fleming said. “The last two and a half years, we’ve had to lease — south to us — the business had to lease parking there.”

Fleming said the parking situation is costing the business more than $800 a month, as it currently has 16 full-time employees, two part-time employees and is considering adding more.

“So parking’s kind of a situation for us right now,” Fleming said. “So we’re wanting to address that.”

Before the commission considered the specific use permit and zoning change, it had a replat of the former Hester Street right of way on its consent agenda, but Hester Street resident Eddie Burchfield asked that it be removed so he could address the commission before a decision was made.

“I’m opposed to it because of what they’re going to do in the future, as he stated,” Burchfield said. “If you go down there and look, they’ve already made changes to the lot. They made a parking lot on one of the lots already, they moved the fence back 10-15 feet already and they had a dumpster that was visible from Austin Street that had old car parts that were visible from Austin Street piled in there.”

Commission Chairman Clay Mahone said the only option for the replat was approval as it was within the city’s regulations, but asked Burchfield to express his concerns during the agenda item related to the specific use permit and zoning change.

During that agenda item, Burchfield said the dumpster he mentioned was a city of Sherman commercial trash bin that had been placed in the middle of the former Hester Street right of way, though it had since been moved behind a fence.

“They cut a hole in the fence; they moved the fence back,” Burchfield said. “We’re too close for a commercial body shop. I’m not saying there’s not a place and need for it, but not in a residential area. You have residential property on the north, south and east of what he’s trying to do and it would decrease our property considerably. In addition to the commercial traffic of commercial vehicles going up and down residential streets where our kids and neighbors play.”

Sherman Director of Development Services Scott Shadden said he’d previously told Fleming the business was to have no wrecked or dismantled cars visible, as they should all be behind the fenced side of the business.

“I’d also recommend that the dumpster be screened with the fence where it’s not visible to the people up the street,” Shadden said. “(You also need to) work out something with the sanitation department where they can get a truck in to pick it up. You may have to open and close the gate, whatever it takes.”

Fleming said the business would agree to do that and any other conditions the commission set forth.

“We’re just trying to access more room and quit paying $10,000 a year to park on another man’s property,” Fleming said. “Whatever you all come with, we’re going to get into compliance. We’re going to do everything in accordance with what the city mandates, but we desperately need the additional parking.”

Mahone then suggested adding a condition to the approval of the specific use permit that a fence be constructed around the parking lot and dumpster area.

“I would advise Mr. Fleming not to stack parts higher than the fence and I’d recommend an eight-foot fence, 25 feet from the Austin Street property line,” Shadden said. “And (he should) have his dumpster on the business side of the fence.”

Fleming agreed to the condition and the zoning change and specific use permit were approved unanimously with the conditions that an eight-foot solid fence be constructed and parts not be stacked where they would be visible above the fence. The specific use permit will next have to be approved by the Sherman City Council during its July 17 meeting.