by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:
MONROE, N.C. - The owner of a Monroe sports complex is fighting city officials to expand his business with a controversial zoning permit.
Marco Cevallos opened IASO Sports Center in 2006 on Charlotte Avenue under a conditional use permit which allowed it to operate as a youth soccer training academy with a sports apparel store and office.
Since, city officials claim Cevallos has repeatedly flouted the terms of his zoning status by holding pay-to-play soccer tournaments, practice and games of adult leagues and opening a restaurant and grill.
City records showed since 2007, Cevallos has received 21 violation inspections and two fire violations, as well as noise complaints from neighbors.
Tuesday, the city council will consider voting to expand Cevallos' existing permit to allow use of the facility for other sports including boxing, volleyball and softball. Also, the permit could expand to allow tournaments, championship celebrations and allow competitive games at the complex.
"My dream is to put all the families together - kids, grownups," Cevallos told Channel 9.
Cevallos admitted he has made mistakes in the past by allowing birthday celebrations that triggered the noise complaints and a written warning about having unauthorized alcohol on the premises.
But Cevallos said such violations are years old and promises city leaders he simply wants to help the community, particularly the Latino population, which he said is underserved.
"You know what I say, and I tell those guys, I learn from my mistakes, I know we do make mistakes," Cevallos said.
Some city council members including Dottie Nash, have strongly opposed any changes to Cevallos' permit.
City officials cited court documents that show a state investigator seized $41,000 worth of counterfeit sports jerseys from Cevallos' sports apparel office in 2011. Cevallos was verbally warned during the seizure but never faced any charges.
Neighbors told Eyewitness News the constant stream of people visiting IASO creates traffic safety concerns in the residential area.
"They're cutting right straight across my yard, and you know, I've asked them to stay off my yard," said neighbor Dale Hargett.
City council will vote on the measure Tuesday night.
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