The Denison Planning and Commission voted Tuesday to deny a change of zoning request for a new night club on Texoma Parkway amid concerns of the property’s condition, disruption of neighboring property and the best use of land along one of the city’s main gateways.
The vote to deny the request passed in a three-to-two vote, with Commissioners Mary Karam and Matt Looney in opposition. The request will now go forward to the city council, who will make a final ruling on the request during a meeting in August.
“Some of you might remember this property as Calhoun’s, and it has been a couple other clubs since then,” Development Review Coordinator Gracie Loyd said during Tuesday’s meeting.
A sign outside the red barn-style building, located at 4801 S. Texoma Pkwy., listed it as the Rodeo Ballroom.
Prior to Tuesday’s request, the previous clubs operated under a conditional use permit on the light industrial property. However, currently, a night club use is only allowed under commercial zoning with a conditional use permit.
As the property has been vacant for some time, the previous permit has expired, officials said.
In the application, Camerina Pimentel proposed that the night club would be open from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week. Robert Sanchez, who represented the club and was translating for Pimentel, said the location would play several styles of music, including country, Tejano, hip-hop and rock.
Sanchez said the early start time would allow it to operate as a private event space for parties or other engagements in addition to being a night club.
“There really isn’t a lot around here that can draw in a nice crowd,” he said, noting that plans were to focus more as an event space.
Loyd said the city sent 10 notifications to neighboring property owners regarding the application and received four disapprovals in response. Reasons for the disapprovals included negative effects on neighboring properties, the type of people who frequent similar establishments, crime, noise and trash, among other reasons.
When asked about the condition of the property, Sanchez said it could likely use paint inside and outside the building. He also said he would need to redo the entire parting lot, which had become overgrown due to the disuse.
Among those in opposition to the planned club was Don Montgomery, who owns nearby land. Montgomery noted that it wasn’t just the activities within the club that worried him, but also activities outside once the club closes each night.
“I’ve been there when these bars come and go,” he said. “We are not looking forward to the city opening up to this type of business again. They (the owners) may have the best of intentions, but they cannot govern what those people will do once they leave.”
Despite the concerns raised about the property, members of the commission weighed this against the need to put the property back into productive condition. While the night club may not be the most preferred use, it was what the property was built and designed for, members of the commission argued.
“It has been let go and is a total eyesore in my opinion,” P&Z Chairman Charles Shearer said.
Shearer said he was uncertain that the applicant had taken full account of how much it would cost to bring the building up to modern standards. If the request were to be approved, it would need to have strong requirements for on-site improvements included, he said.
Shearer also voiced his concern about what image Denison is sending by having clubs and other similar industries along its major corridors into town. This followed similar conversations in recent weeks regarding businesses such as car lots and automotive businesses.
As an example, Shearer said he could remember the days when Denison was seen as the place to purchase alcohol when Sherman was dry.
“I think we are still overcoming that somewhat, and I don’t want to reinforce that,” he said.
The commission debated tabling the request until August to allow the property owner, Jose Rodriguez, the chance to attend and present formal plans for improving the location. However, instead Brett Evans motioned to deny the request, with Jan Simpson seconding. In the vote Evans, Simpson and Shearer voted in favor of the denial.
Despite this set back, the request will still move forward to the city council in August, with a recommendation of denial from P&Z. In his support of the denial, Shearer recommended that Pimentel draft a formal list of improvements she would like to pursue to present to the council.