Motorcycle Training Center, or MTC, has been operating in the parking lot behind the Lowe’s Home Improvement Center at 501 S. Plano Road for more than 10 years, according to owner Chris Liftin. The purpose of the business is to teach safe and responsible riding techniques, he said.
Code enforcement officers became aware of the operation only after noticing traffic cones set up in the parking lot, according to city documents. This was not an approved use for the site, prompting the requirement for a special permit.
If approved, the business would have been allowed to continue holding two courses per week between March and October. Each session was five hours long and began as early as 7 a.m., according to Liftin.
Finding suitable locations for riding lessons is something Liftin spends a lot of time on, he said. Most parking lots are used for their intended purpose or do not remain vacant for very long, he added.
This particular lot is located on the former site of the Richardson Square Mall, which was demolished over a decade ago. The 95-acre area is now an outdoor retail center called Richardson Square, but much of the parking remains unused.
“It’s very rare to find an opportunity like this where it’s an underutilized parking lot,” he said.
At a Richardson City Planning Commission meeting in December, eight nearby residents turned out to oppose the permit. Noise was cited as a concern; however, Development Director Michael Spicer said he was unable to say for sure whether MTC had ever received a noise complaint.
Two former students and an MTC riding instructor spoke in favor of the permit at the council meeting. None of the speakers were Richardson residents.
“MTC provides a much needed service for the community,” former student Mary Frances Poston said.
The business is licensed and contracted with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s motorcycle safety unit, according to Liftin. Texas law has since 2009 required all new motorcycle license applicants to have taken and successfully completed a Texas-approved motorcycle safety course, according to the MTC website.
Council Members Bob Dubey and Ken Hutchenrider said they were disheartened by the lack of support from nearby homeowners associations. Dubey said he knew of two HOAs that opposed the permit.
“I struggle with this, because none of the ‘fors’ live in Richardson,” he said. “I haven’t had any [HOAs] say ‘let’s keep it.’”
But the business had no record of complaints, which was enough to convince Council Member Janet DePuy to support the operation.
“I think they are doing more good than harm,” she said.
In the end, council voted 5-2 to deny the permit. Council Member Janet DePuy and Mayor Paul Voelker opposed.