By: Leah Uko
OMAHA (KPTM) – A business owner was granted permission to better her auto retail shop, but she faces a few hurdles—the permission granted from city council will only last a year and if a nearby business can help it, her permit won't be extended.
Maria Torres asked Omaha City Council for permission to install a paint booth into an existing structure of Advance Auto Sales near the corner of 10th and Bancroft streets.
In a 6-0 vote, the council granted her permission for 12 months and will revisit the shop's progress a year after 11 conditions are applied to the shop.
"At least better than nothing," said Torres.
In addition to monitoring the fumes that will go out of the building, the council ordered Torres to make landscaping improvements to the area outside.
Installing a tree every 50 feet with the landscaping strip, closing the northern driveway access, restriping the parking lot to provide customer parking, removing a pole sign on 10th Street and painting the garage doors are some of the conditions Torres needs to follow before her shop is can be granted a permit.
Once the conditions are met, the council will grant her a permit to operate a spray booth in the repair shop and revisit its progress a year from that day.
Torres said she was fine with implementing the changes, but feared the city would close her shop after the changes are in place.
"If I'm going to be doing a lot and putting money into this project and down the road they say for some reason they want to close us down I'm not just going to make everything pretty."
Councilman Garry Gernandt voted in opposition to the shop's permit citing concerns about filtering the fumes and the overall look of the shop, rather than its function.
"About 30 cars out in front of that building today in various dangers of repair,' Gernandt said in Tuesday's meeting.
Also against extending the paint booth was business neighbor, Bill Seidler.
Seidler, who owns Bancroft Street Market, argued that the shop was already an eyesore to what he called a "tourist friendly" neighborhood.
Advance Auto Sales is located near the Durham Museum and Henry Doorly Zoo.
Seidler said that area near 10th and Bancroft is evolving into a tourist attraction and that expanding the auto shop would not go with the look of the area.
Torres said her shop would not ruin the look of the area.
"This neighborhood, if you walk through the neighborhood," she continued. "I don't see nothing that they would want to come around and see here."
"Oh I would disagree with that," Seidler argued. "If you go to other major metropolitan areas, people are able to walk several miles and see the highlights of the city."
But the shop's development, despite opposition, was approved.
Torres said she hopes her permit will become permanent once she gets the booth up and running this summer.