Pair battles permit problem

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David Minton/DRC
Recently towed vehicles are shown in this fenced off area in the back of the Akers Towing lot on Dallas Drive on Friday in Denton.
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Akers Towing will be in front of the Denton City Council on Tuesday seeking a permit to do what it’s been doing for more than two decades: towing cars when the city asks and keeping them secure until the owners can claim them again.

Joe Akers said trouble came after he rented one of the bays at his shop on Dallas Drive to another mechanic.

“He was making a mess,” Akers said. He evicted the mechanic, but not before the problems came to the city’s attention.

Code enforcement officers with the Community Improvement Services Division pressed Akers to comply with other property maintenance requirements. Akers said he did the best he could, but some of the city’s codes conflict with state requirements.

Then, the company’s certificate of occupancy came into question. When the city didn’t have it on file, Gloria Akers said she produced their copy.

“We paid $200 for it,” Gloria Akers said. “We’ve been here since 1978.”

The original certificate of occupancy calls the business “auto-related,” which doesn’t cover towing and storing vehicles under the city’s current rules, according to Ron Menguita, an administrator in the city’s planning department.

The city has been working with the couple for a while to help them secure the specific-use permit they need to continue to do business at their location, which backs up to a creek bed that is part of the Pecan Creek watershed.

“There are a lot of things that can be on an auto wrecker site,” Menguita said. “It’s a public health and welfare issue.”

One of the sticking points, Joe Akers said, has been a staff recommendation that he retrofit the storage yard with a special kind of sand-filled swell that would filter any leaking fluids before they reached the creek or groundwater.

Greg Edwards, a local engineer working with the couple, said he questions the need for the swell, in part because there are more affordable alternatives to guard against runoff or leaks. In addition, he estimated such a project could cost between $20,000 and $40,000.

“No one else in town has it,” said Edwards, who once worked for the city.

Menguita said the city’s water administration department has been working with Edwards and the business owners on alternatives to the swell.

The city doesn’t want to put them out of business, Menguita said.

“We want them to be successful,” he said.

The permit will be among six public hearings scheduled during the City Council’s regular meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 215 E. McKinney St.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.


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