Council denies zone change for BBQ business

By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer

Portales City Council members on Monday voted unanimously not to allow J4 Bar-B-Que to serve “to-go” orders from a house at 1309 E. Amazon Street.

About 75 spectators attended the meeting.

The three principal operators of J4, Glenn Johnson, Bill Graham and Jerry Faber, all spoke at the meeting about their desire to expand their business. Currently, J4 Bar-B-Que is a catering company and that kind of business is allowed for the neighborhood. But selling barbecue to customers at the home would require a zoning change.

All three men are teachers at Portales High School and they launched their catering business last July.

Johnson said the house on Amazon had been used in the past for other forms of business — including a burger stand. But that was before the area was annexed into the city as the Franklin Addition.

“It’s close to the high school, where three of us worked, and we wanted it to be accessible and convenient,” Johnson said. “We did this in order to cater to the surrounding area. It brought to us an awareness of people who wanted barbecue on a daily basis rather than just at catered events.”

Testimony from those for and against the measure were limited to four speakers, with each given three minutes apiece.

Residents of the neighborhood were the voices against the measure and their complaints against the proposed business expansion included smoke from the establishment, noise and traffic.

“After extensive research, I have discovered that our property value will go down,” said Donna King, a five-year resident of the neighborhood. “The primary purpose of zoning is to separate buildings that are thought to be incompatible.”

Steven King, Donna’s husband, said he was surprised by the unanimous vote that went the way he hoped.

“I really didn’t know. It could’ve gone either way — I really think so,” King said. “I was relieved. I thought it was a fair meeting all the way across.”