That business is targeted for a seven-acre tract at 1493 W. Pine St. near the Mount Airy Tractor Co. site, according to a local car dealer who is seeking to develop the auction.
A petition earlier was submitted to the Mount Airy Planning Board by property owner Paige Smith. It requests that land at this location be rezoned from an R-20 (residential) designation to the B-4, highway business, classification.
The request earlier was approved unanimously by the planning board, an advisory group to the city board of commissioners.
During a meeting of the commissioners that begins today at 7 p.m., officials will consider setting a public hearing for Feb. 19, the board’s next meeting, on the rezoning request. That will allow citizens to speak for or against the proposal.
Neil Shelton, a local used-car dealer, said Wednesday that no opposition has surfaced from neighbors regarding the project, which initially calls for placing a sales lot at the site and later the auto auction.
Shelton, who already operates a car lot in another section of Mount Airy, said that if the rezoning is approved, the sales lot hopefully would open in mid-March and the auto auction about two months after that.
“That’s what our goals would be,” he said.
While pointing out that the auto auction envisioned would be a first for Mount Airy, Shelton said, “It’s just something that we’ve never had and I think would go good up there.” The auction would include cars, trucks, recreational vehicles and motorcycles, he said.
Surry County has a heavy concentration of licensed used-car dealers, more than Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, according to Shelton. However, they have no auction outlet in this area and must travel to other locations out of town, which means fuel expenses and pay for drivers.
“There are 300 to 500 cars a week going down the road,” said Shelton.
He envisions a dealers-only auction being held on Friday of each week and another open to the public on Saturdays, giving people a chance to buy or sell vehicles. The presence of the auto auction would allow a ready market to someone strapped for cash and wanting to dispose of a vehicle fast, the local dealer said.
Dealers also would come from out of town, which could boost local restaurants and other establishments, he added.
Shelton said that some neighbors of the property have had questions about the project, targeted for land directly beside the tractor company site and a cleared area to the rear. Mostly, they are concerned about the hours of the prospective business.
“I’m not going to do anything during the night,” Shelton pledged in trying to allay fears that the auction would go on at that time. He said it would be in operation for less than 15 hours per week on Fridays and Saturdays.
“Right now, the main goal is getting it rezoned,” Shelton said of the property intended for the auto auction. “We’re still in the planning part of it — if things work out, that’s what we’re shooting for.”
Cherry Street House
Also on tonight’s agenda, the board of commissioners is scheduled to hear a presentation regarding a controversial house on Cherry Street.
A report will be given to the board from Mike Stout of the Preservation North Carolina organization and Brenda Cooke, a McKinney Road resident earlier identified as a potential buyer for the 305 Cherry St. property.
The rundown structure has been threatened with demolition in the past year in order to provide more parking space for the nearby Reeves Community Center. While there was widespread support for razing the house, local preservationists fought to save what they consider an important part of Mount Airy’s Historic District, which includes Cherry Street.
Months of debate, and unsuccessful attempts to sell the house on its own, led to a decision by the city board of commissioners on Sept. 4 to place the property in the hands of Preservation North Carolina. Its mission is to protect and promote buildings, landscapes and sites important to the state’s heritage.
City officials set a purchase price of $47,500, the sum paid by the community center for the property in 2002. The September vote called for Preservation North Carolina to hold a six-month option to buy the house while it attempts to market the site to a buyer, with the deal including restrictive covenants being placed on the property to maintain its architectural value.
Cooke reportedly plans to buy the property, known as the Baird Cottage, and restore it to its earlier appearance while using the house for her primary residence. She has renovated other properties in the past, including a farmhouse in Ararat, Va.
It is not known if tonight’s presentation will lead to consummating the sale of the city-owned site.
Such a transaction would involve Preservation North Carolina transferring the property to the buyer and the municipality receiving the $47,500, with no real estate commission being paid.
Contact Tom Joyce at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1924.