BISBEE — They hoped for a better outcome, but some folks from Whetstone went away disappointed after the Cochise County Board of Supervisors denied an appeal for a home fabrication business Tuesday morning.
Back in May, Jon Montez was granted a special use permit to construct a 1,600-square foot building for his business, Counter Intelligence, in Whetstone’s Ranchos Cochise on his 4.55 acres on N. Busick Ranch Rd. by the county Planning and Zoning Commission, though there was some opposition to the permit.
He plans to make countertops in the building from sheets and blocks of countertop material.
The planner’s report explained the process Montez would use. “Once the ‘raw’ material is at the location he will then router, sand, shape and glue the countertops together. This is done using tools and materials found in many residential shops.”
“He has provided a detailed explanation of the process and photos. There are no hazardous chemicals used beyond what is found in a typical residence and shop. The process is conducted inside the shop building. The interior will be insulated, and doors and windows kept closed to help mitigate noise. In addition, the building is set back at least 60 feet from the property line which will also help to reduce any noise impacts.”
There were letters of support, one of which was from Edward and Bonnie Kammeyer, which stated: “This would be better than the goat farm in the neighborhood. Jon and Simara Montez are outstanding Christian citizens.”
The commissioners unanimously voted to approve the special use permit.
Terrance Hogan, who lives in the area near the proposed place of business, filed the appeal to have the special use permit overturned by the Supervisors. His reasoning was, in part, the county staff misrepresented the character of Ranchos Cochise and how the permit would affect the comprehensive plan and 2020 Envision program.
He said it would cause personal harm from noise and health risks due to what he called a “toxic environment.”
“The approval does irreparable harm to residents of Ranchos Cochise, Cochise County as a whole, the state of Arizona and (me) personally,” Hogan said.
He told Supervisors Peggy Judd, Ann English and Tom Borer the Corian countertop material was hazardous and cutting the material would produce harmful dust.
“I feel bamboozled,” he noted. “I wouldn’t have bought the land if I knew the residential area would be open to businesses. You’re taking peace and quiet from me and my right to enjoy my property.”
Several local residents agreed, and county planner Robert Kirschner told the supervisors Planning and Zoning had received 69 letters in opposition of the special use permit.
Ann Aust was one of them. She showed the supervisors a parcel map of the subdivision and said the business does not fit in a residential area.
Resident Charles Everett said the supervisors should honor the covenants of the subdivision even though there is no homeowner’s association, let alone a board of directors to whom to take complaints.
Judd said she searched online to see if there were any health risks associated with cutting the sheets. She said she only found a recommendation to wear a respiratory mask, like one worn by painters or carpenters. There was no mention of any dangers of the dust from fabricating countertops.
In Montez’s time to rebut, he assured the supervisors and the residents the business would not have a major impact on the neighborhood. He would take extra steps to ensure the noise would not be heard off his property and planned to have a dust collector system, so it did not leave the building.
“No one will be exposed to clouds of dust,” he emphasized.
As for any traffic concerns, he said the only travel would be in his vehicle when he would leave to pickup materials and when he delivered them. There would no extraneous traffic.
English pointed out the law does permit businesses like this in rural areas. She felt the health question had been resolved, and concerns of noise were addressed by Montez.
“This is an emotional issue,” English said. “No one wants their neighborhood to change.”
Peggy Judd voted in favor of the appeal.