More than a dozen Sherman residents arrived to speak on a single issue on the agenda at the Tuesday evening regular meeting of the Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission inside City Hall.

More than a dozen Sherman residents arrived to speak on a single issue on the agenda at the Tuesday evening regular meeting of the Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission inside City Hall.

The meeting began at 5 p.m. and the Board moved to approve two signage construction requests from a local sign company. One sign request’s approval will allow a local church to erect a small LED sign with a scrolling message. The second request approved by the commissioners allows an exception to an ordinance, granting the signage company permission to build a second sign on a hospital’s property.

The commissioners asked a few questions for clarification from the sign company’s representative at the meeting before approving his requests. Chairman Don Hicks then called Sherman residents Ken and Linda Arnold to present their request to the commission. Linda Arnold addressed the commissioners on the dais by reading a prepared statement explaining that she has been operating a small business in her home.

Arnold said she is a retired hairstylist and her business consists only of some of her old clients, and she assured the commissioners that she did not offer her services to the wider public. Arnold said her clientele is "very small, with only my close friends and family… 9 or 10 people a week."

After Arnold read her statement, Hicks said, "We’ve gotten several letters from people saying they do have a problem. You said you don’t have people parking the street?"

Arnold told the chairman that she always instructs her clients to park inside her driveway. Hicks asked for a show of hands from the assembly of who was present to speak about the Arnolds’ request. Everyone except three people in the audience of 16 raised their hands. Hicks invited them to each speak separately, and six of those who arrived addressed the assembly, all with similar concerns.

"I don’t feel this exemption in zoning is going to help the neighborhood," one resident said, "there’s some (traffic) congestion there already."

Another concerned resident said, "This corner always seemed a little congested and when I got the letter (from the Planning and Zoning Commission), it sort of clicked. We’re a young family that just moved here and I do not want this commercial business in our neighborhood."

Other neighbors also raised concerns about traffic but only one speaker addressed a concern shared more urgently by the commissioners, saying "once you open up one business there, what’s to stop a second, third, fourth? I don’t want it."

Commissioner Ron Barton expressed a similar concern with the future of the business once the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the Arnolds’ request. Barton asked City Attorney Brandon Shelby, "Once you get the permit, can the city prevent you from opening it to the public?"

Shelby confirmed that once the exception was issued, the city could not prevent the business from operating under its own terms. Commissioner Brad Morgan asked Linda if she had considered renting a space for her business. Arnold said that she had considered it, but she said her client base was too small to make a rented space financially viable. The Arnolds also argued that the traffic on their street corner was partly due to construction nearby, and Ken said "there are never more than three cars a day."

The commissioners ultimately rejected the request. Commissioner Joe Gilbert told the couple, "With all due respect, the issue is more the precedent and the zoning integrity of the development. The fact that it has gotten to this point, to have to get a special use permit, well, it’s not easy to do that."

After some discussion, the commissioners confirmed that Mrs. Arnold could continue styling her friends’ and family’s hair, as long as she didn’t receive money for it. After Arnold had confirmed that she could continue to cut hair for free, she seemed satisfied, saying "Okay then. Hmm." The commissioners apologized that they were not able to approve the couple’s request.

The commission also approved a request for multiple exceptions to one particular ordinance on a property owned by the Sherman Economic Development Corporation. The set of exceptions will allow a new building in the Blalock Industrial Park to conform to the appearance of adjacent buildings, instead of stringently adhering to the city’s bylaws for fencing and building facades.