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CITY EMPLOYEE ACCUSES MESQUITE OFFICIAL OF ASSAULT

SHARE CITY EMPLOYEE ACCUSES MESQUITE OFFICIAL OF ASSAULT

A Mesquite employee says a city councilman shoved him into a wall after a recent City Council meeting.

The employee has filed a complaintwith the police department seeking a battery charge against the councilman.The incident occurred following the June 11 City Council meeting. During the meeting, officials of the city's building department suggested that a welding shop on an acre of land in southeast Mesquite was not appropriate in a residential area. Councilman Jim Andrus owns the property.

City officials postponed discussion of the Andrus property to the June 25 council meeting.

City employee Darin Whatcott said the councilman approached him after the June 11 meeting.

"I was just walking by after the meeting when Andrus physically stopped me, yelled and pushed me into the wall," Whatcott said. "Because he's a councilman he has this attitude he can do whatever he wants."

"I'm always sorry when something like this happens but I have no comment," said Andrus when contacted at his office Thursday.

During Tuesday's City Council meeting, a number of residents from an adjoining subdivision insisted that Andrus clean up his property. The council voted 3-1 (Andrus abstaining) to hold a public hearing to amend the master plan designating the property between Mimosa and Gean streets as light industrial. Currently, all city zoning maps indicate the property is zoned for mobile homes and residential.

If a zoning change were implemented, the council pointed out that Andrus' property would continue to be "grandfathered" as a nonconforming use. But if the property were sold, the new owner would be required to conform to the new zoning requirements.

However, Mesquite City Councilman Harold Wittwer told Andrus it was an eyesore and as such should be torn down and "something attractive be built on this site."

Andrus argued that industrial property does not need to be maintained to the same standards as residential, but residents in the adjoining subdivision were not appeased. They complained of the noise coming from the metal fabrication shop, calling the area "blighted." A public hearing will be held to hear further arguments.

Last week, Mesquite City Manager Bill DaVee indicated the Whatcott-Andrus incident "was not an assault but a confrontation." Mesquite Police Chief Michael Murphy would not comment on the investigation except to say the case has been forwarded to a special prosecutor. No charges have been filed.