Ernest Ralls Jr., who wants to open a vinyl fence fabrication business and dealership in Strawberry, is hemmed in by residential zoning, but he's hoping to knock down that barrier Thursday at the next Gila County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
Ralls will ask the commission to rezone his property at the corner of Fossil Creek and Lost Oak Road in Strawberry, from residential to transitional residential to allow him to operate a fence customizing business and dealership on the property.
According to his rezoning request, Ralls wants to build a 30-foot by 40-foot garage south of his home to house a customized-fence dealership, and he wants to install a four-foot by four-foot sign on the side of the building to advertise Strawberry Mountain Vinyl. He wants to erect fencing displays on the corner of his lot and he wants to install a sign advertising his business on Fossil Creek Road.
Inside the proposed building, Ralls wants to store, assemble and modify vinyl fence products.
Ralls, who is required by county regulations to notify property owners within a 300-foot radius of the proposed zoning change, said last week that he's spoken to about 80 percent of his neighbors and hasn't met with any major objections.
If approved, the proposed fence company will not be the first business to open in the neighborhood a fact that may play in Ralls' favor. Residents are already accustomed to passing a gravel yard, Stodghill Excavating, a commercially zoned business just north of Ralls' property across Fossil Creek Road.
"Basically, the only reason I support it is that there is already commercial right across the street," Terry Smith, deputy director of the Gila County Community Development Department said.
To help keep the area around the proposed business pleasant for the neighbors, Smith said his staff has added a number of stipulations to Ralls' request, including:
• Limiting the company's hours of operation to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday;
• Restricting all work to the interior of the garage, and;
• Limiting operations to fabrication and retail with no manufacturing.
Based on the application before the commissioners, Smith said the proposed business will be a simple fence business.
"(The way I envision it), I could take him a schematic of what I want, and he could custom make it and then go out and install it," Smith said.
Ralls said he expects his operation to work like this: A customer will order the product, the product will be shipped to Ralls' workshop in Strawberry and he'll cusomize the gates and rails before delivering the finished fence sections to the customer.
In his request to the county, Ralls said he will cut the fencing, clean it, install hinges and gate latches and perform rotor work to create proper fittings.
The Gila County Planning and Zoning Commission will discuss the rezoning during its next public meeting at 10:15 a.m. Thursday, April 20 in the Gila County Courthouse, 1400 Ash Street in Globe. Written comments can be mailed to Terry Smith at 1400 Ash Street, Globe AZ 85501 or faxed to (520) 425-0829.