After opening its doors 18 months ago, Southwest Motor Services Group LLC, a used car dealership in Huachuca City, is proposing to expand its operations.
Pending town council approval on Thursday, Southwest Motor’s business partners want to provide the public with full-service vehicle repair and maintenance services. In addition to the automobile repair side of the dealership, the business is requesting permission to install a 100-foot communications tower on the east end of the 2.76-acre property, located at 209 S. Huachuca Blvd.
“When it comes to vehicle repairs, we’ll do everything from bumpers to engines,” said Dominic Politi, one of the seven business partners. “We also plan to fix external blemishes and provide detailing, along with the full-service engine and transmission repairs.”
Politi, who served 22 years in the U.S. Army as a communications specialist, also owns Southwest Systems Engineering Corporation with his wife Bernie, son Nicholas and daughter Nicole Perez. Dominic and Bernie started the Sierra Vista-based communications business in 1991.
That’s where the 100-foot tower comes in.
The communications tower will provide redundant connectivity to the building in Sierra Vista, he said. “We want to interconnect the two services between CenturyLink, which is what we have in Huachuca City, and Cox, which is what we have in Sierra Vista. And it will allow us to provide internet service to our local community in Huachuca City.”
Huachuca City’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved a conditional use permit (CUP) for the automobile service expansion and tower during a public hearing on July 3.
The next step is getting council approval at Thursday’s town council meeting, said Matthew Williams, Huachuca City town manager. “The business owners have done a great job of enhancing the property when they purchased it for the auto dealership, and the communications tower is going to bring improved internet service to the town’s businesses. The expansion is a win-win for all involved.”
When addressing the planning commission at the July 3 hearing, Huachuca City Building Official Jim Johnson also spoke in support of the business proposal. Johnson praised husband-wife team Dominic and Bernie Politi for their willingness to work closely with town officials and spoke of improvements made to the property.
“You know what the property looked like when they purchased it, versus what it looks like today, so there have been a lot of major improvements,” he said. “The business is a very nice addition to the town of Huachuca City.”
When explaining the Conditional Use Permit review, Johnson said the property’s zoning is general business-commercial, so the expansion request falls within the current zoning.
In answering questions about the communications tower, it was Nicholas Politi who spoke to the commission.
“Right now, a number of businesses have asked us to look into providing internet service,” he said. “...With the addition of the 100-foot tower, we would be able to get (coverage) to roughly 20 to 60 percent of upper Huachuca City.”
Nicholas Politi said the goal is to start by providing coverage to the town’s businesses the first year, then expand into residential areas once the necessary infrastructure is in place to support the expansion.
“We have to crawl before we can run,” he said when asked about providing internet service to lower Huachuca City. While providing the community’s businesses with coverage is a priority, Politi said that once connectivity is effective for businesses and upper Huachuca City, there are plans in place to grow the service.
Huachuca City Mayor Johann Wallace also supports the expansion as a viable addition to Huachuca City, both the automobile service side and the tower.
“The businesses in this town are left at a disadvantage when it comes to effective, sustainable internet speed,” he said. “What we get as residents is fine, but businesses require greater download and upload speeds, depending on what they’re doing.”
The communications tower is manufactured by Rohn, a premier company that will be doing the installation. It will have a flashing beacon at the top and a steady beacon at the 50-foot level.
“Our intent is to bring more revenue to Huachuca City,” Dominic Politi said. “We took a distressed property and transformed it into a viable business, and we’re continuing to improve the property. With council approval, we look forward to providing expanded auto repair services and improved internet service to the community.”