A request from a restaurant on West 28th Avenue to operate as a private club was pulled from the agenda at Tuesday's Planning Commission meeting when the property owner withdrew his support.

A request from a restaurant on West 28th Avenue to operate as a private club was pulled from the agenda at Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting when the property owner withdrew his support.

The owners of the New Harbor Restaurant at 2520 W. 28th Ave. had submitted an application to operate as a restaurant and private club, but the application also required the support of the property owner. That support was withdrawn before Tuesday’s meeting, staff planner Jerre George said.

According to the Planning Commission agenda packet, the owners have operated the site as a private club in the past without knowing that a permit was required.

The owners’ names were not listed on the Planning Commission agenda and the signature on the application was illegible. However, at the time of an article in September 2011, the owners of a restaurant named “The Harbor” at the same address were Tony Dowd and Jefferson County District 5 Justice of the Peace Lloyd Franklin II.

At the time of that article, the owners were attempting to settle outstanding prepared food taxes they owed the city of Pine Bluff after not paying any since it had opened several months previously, according to reports from Convention Center Director Bob Purvis and city collector’s office staff at the time. Purvis said at the time that taxes were also owed from Dowd’s previous restaurant, YNOT Charley’s, which burned down in 2009.

Purvis said Tuesday that after paying $74 in the taxes in September 2011, no further prepared food taxes have been remitted since, according to the records he gets from the city collector’s office.

Welch Motors

The Board of Zoning Adjustment, which meets jointly with the Planning Commission, voted 5-1 to allow Welch Motor Co. to erect an 8-foot black vinyl fence in the front-yard setback at 2505 S. Olive St. and to install a 6-foot chain-link fence topped with barbed wire along the north side of the property, which would fall partially within the front-yard setback.

Business owner David Welch said that vandalism has cost the company $48,000 since 2004.

“We never know when we’re going to walk in and find vandalism that will put us out of business,” Welch said.

Office manager Brian Irwin said that the company’s annual insurance premiums have increased by $18,000 since 2009. He said for each vandalism incident, the company must pay a $500 deductible, plus 25 percent of the repair cost. Irwin said that in December 2009, a brand new vehicle was stolen off the lot, costing the company about $25,000. In 2010, Irwin said four wheels were stolen off a car, causing $4,400 in damage.

Planning staff had recommended denial of the requests, citing the city zoning code prohibiting such fences in the front-yard setback. Decorative, 4-foot fences are allowed, but not chain-link or barbed wire. Similar fences at car lots and other businesses across town were erected before the zoning code was updated with those changes.

Commissioner Edward Long voted against the item, citing discomfort with the barbed-wire fence topping.

Commissioner Stephen Huselton said that the Planning Commission should not be a factor in shutting down an existing business. He also said that the Welches are a long-time Pine Bluff family he knows well and knows they have given back to the community.

“We don’t need to lose [their business] over a fence,” Huselton said. “His family’s been here too long to get done this way.”

Dollar General

A request from Pamela Smith representing Lunsford Realty to rezone 3800 Oakwood Road from R-1 Residential to B-3 Highway Commercial failed for lack of a fifth vote.

A single-family home is currently at the site. Sam Ware of Ware Properties LLC said that he would like to build a Dollar General store at the location. He said Dollar General asked him to find a location in the Watson Chapel area, and that this is the only site he found in his five months of research that would be suitable for the planned 9,100-square-foot store.

Ware said he also plans to develop Dollar General stores in White Hall and in north Pine Bluff. Ware said there are six Dollar Generals in Pine Bluff and White Hall currently.

Andy Lunsford with Lunsford Realty also spoke in favor of the request. He said that because of the traffic in the area, the nearby schools and nearby commercial buildings, the house will be difficult to sell as a residential property and he feels it would most likely be successful as a commercial building.

Planning recommended against the request, arguing the traffic volume in the area is already too much for the existing roadway. Staff recommended against adding additional commercial businesses to the area until after the road is widened or the traffic problems are otherwise eased.

George said that Watson Chapel School District Superintendent Danny Hazelwood called her to report the district’s opposition to the request, citing concerns about increased traffic and the safety of children who walk and bike to school.

George also noted that by approving the change in zoning, many different types of more intense commercial uses could be built at the site in the future.

The commissioners split 3-3 on the issue. Five votes are needed for a request to be approved by the commission.

The applicant can appeal the decision to the city council.

Other business

In other business, the board and the commission:

• Approved a request from Harden Anjolok representing the Pine Bluff Marshallese First Assembly of God to establish a church at 2221 Olive St. Suite G.

• Approved a request from Doristine Johnson representing God is Love and Care — Bread of Life Ministry to establish a church in a vacant commercial building at 1412 S. Poplar St. in a B-1 Commercial zone, subject to several stipulations including ones regarding parking, bringing the building up to code and building a second door for easier access.

• Approved a request from Elbert Bennett to reduce the number of parking spots required for a planned senior assisted living facility at 2801 W. Elm St.

• And approved a request from Ruby Hathcoat to close 100 feet of Wormack Street from Moreland Street to the west.