Minor auto repair qualifies as a desirable service in an area dominated by fast food and supermarkets.

So goes the opinion of the Centerville City Council, which overturned an earlier Planning Commission decision to refuse the granting of preliminary site approval to Road Runner Express Lube.That decision was based on faulty judgment, said Wayne King, who has proposed the business. According to King, site approvals must meet the following four requirements:

- The business must provide a necessary and desirable service.

- It must not be opposed by residents.

- It must meet zoning ordinances.

- It must fit into the city's master plan.

In appealing the decision to the council, King addressed all four questions. To prove that residents don't oppose the project, he read excerpts from a dozen letters from neighboring residents and businesses stating their support for the lubrication and inspection station.

The business had met all zoning requirements for a conditional use permit, King said. By complying with zoning laws, he also felt that he fit into the master plan.

"Doesn't the master plan help determine the zoning laws?" he asked.

The reason for the refusal, King said, was an arbitrary decision that the service was undesirable. The landscaping will have trees on three sides of the property, and the building will have sufficient setback.

"It won't be a big or flashy business," King said. "It will be a benefit to the community and the citizens of Centerville."

One of the commission's justifications for turning down the proposal originally was that other places already offered the services, King said.

"But we already had one Mexican restaurant in town, and two more were allowed in," he said. "And this is better than another taco stand."

City Manager Steve Thacker agreed that the commission had felt the auto care business an undesirable use.

"Some felt there was no way to make an automotive repair shop look attractive," Thacker said.

Also, the commission had hoped to get a small retail or business park to move onto the property, Thacker said. Otherwise, the commission had no problem with the proposal, and had even gotten clearance from police regarding potential traffic problems.

"If anything, there will be less traffic associated with this place than with other uses," he said.

But the council sided with King, and granted the preliminary site approval unanimously. King will have to return to the planning commission for a final site approval, although getting approval should pose no problem because of the council's backing.