ZBA denies drive-thru variances


By Charlotte Caldwell

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SIDNEY – The Sidney Zoning Board of Appeals denied two drive-thru variances for Ulbrich’s Hometown Bakery and approved a variance for an accessory building in a front yard at a meeting on Nov. 20.

Roland Himes requested a variance to construct an accessory building in the front yard of 894 E. Court St. because the rear yard slopes downward into a ravine. Himes is proposing to build a 40-by-40 feet, 1,600-square-foot pole barn on the western side of the front yard. The property is 5 acres and the accessory building would be nearly 300 feet from the front property line along East Court Street and will be covered by existing mature trees.

The first variance for a new drive-thru at Ulbrich’s at 1124 Michigan St. involved reducing the number of stacking spaces required for a new drive-thru with a menu board and one service window from five to zero.

“Stacking spaces are measured in 20-foot increments to provide adequate space between vehicles to ensure that queuing vehicles are not spilling into public right-of-ways or easements and are not interfering with on-site parking or circulation,” the report written by city staff said. As stated in the recommendation to the board, “If a line of vehicles stacks up behind either the service window or the menu board, those vehicles would obstruct multiple parking spaces, the drive aisle, and the entrance to the parking lot from Third Avenue. The result would not only be added congestion on Third Avenue, which would negatively impact the character of the surrounding neighborhood, but also would delay emergency services from gaining access to this side of the shopping plaza in case of an emergency.”

The second variance for the drive-thru was to eliminate the required by-pass lane that would allow vehicles to circulate around those waiting in the drive-thru lane if necessary. City staff was concerned about problems for emergency services and other safety issues.

Applicant Brad Ulbrich attended the meeting and said he got approval from the city for the drive-thru before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic halted the plan, and then the new zoning code implemented in February of 2022 changed some requirements. Ulbrich had an employee log how many cars drove by on Third Avenue every 15 minutes one Friday morning to measure the issues that could arise with spillover from the drive-thru, and he said about six cars went by on Third Avenue in a span of about three and a half hours.

Board member Petra Sloan was not in attendance and was excused by the board.

The next Zoning Board of Appeals meeting will be held on Dec. 18 at 4 p.m. in City Hall’s council chambers.

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