Cedar Hill, TX - In a course reversal that stunned and angered dozens of residents, the Cedar Hill City Council voted unanimously late Tuesday night to allow Fuel City to come to U.S. Highway 67 and Joe Wilson Road.
Popular for its locations in downtown Dallas and other suburbs, Fuel City looked like it might not rise in Cedar Hill. The company had found city Plan Commission opposition to its mega gas station, convenience store, tacos, car wash and livestock menagerie. The proposed Cedar Hill location also faced united ire from residents of the Shady Brook subdivision immediately north of the 8-acre site.
Because the Plan Commission had voted against Fuel City in August, any two of seven council members could have turned the retailer away -- and appeased the two dozen who spoke against Fuel City in the three hours of debate. But none of the council members saw a reason to block the taco-centric roadside attraction.
"Oftentimes, the easiest thing to do is what people want," Mayor Rob Franke said. "But that's often not the best long-term."
Fuel City needed approval of three requests -- one for gas sales, one for a car wash and one for its trademark animals. Longhorns, the Cedar Hill High School mascot, are planned at the site. The business, council members said, had done their job to address concerns and the landowner had the right to sell the property.
Unlike other locations, Fuel City will not cater to 18-wheelers in Cedar Hill. Its car wash will close at 8 p.m. and more than 700 trees at the back of the property will preserve up to 360 feet of separation from the neighborhood.
The land was zoned for general retail. Franke said Cedar Hill would continue to grow and that the development plan featured more green space and buffer to the neighborhood than the city required.
"We don't have the authority to say no business can ever go there," Franke said.
Neighbors' biggest concerns were the smell of the animals, lights and potential crime from the 24-7 business. They repeated what they had told the Plan Commission weeks earlier: while many of them liked and welcomed Fuel City, they didn't believe it belonged adjacent to Shady Brook.
"Their plan looks really good, but it needs to be farther down Highway 67," said Jeanie Miles. "Why can't we keep some green space coming into Cedar Hill?"
Sonya Jenkins said currently, "tacos are everywhere."
"And we have a blow-up longhorn we use on Friday night at the football game, and that's sufficient," she said.
Several shouted as they left council chambers. Franke told one she would be escorted out. He later banged the gavel for order.
"We didn't go out picking Fuel City to come here," said Franke, admitting it had been a topic of much debate in the city for several weeks. "We wanted to hear how people felt and address their concerns."
Residents who don't live in the subdivision supported the plan, pointing out that Shady Brook has always been near a highway, and it's only going to get louder and more crowded as ongoing work to widen U.S. 67 to six lanes is completed.
Thirteen residents spoke in favor of Fuel City, including a school board member and the executive director of the chamber of commerce.
"They took the concerns and tried to make adjustments," said Randy Moon, a 65-year resident who lives near downtown Cedar HIll. "They want to fit into our community."
Source: Dallas Morning News