SIDNEY — Of the three items on the Zoning Board of Appeal’s agenda Monday, one applicant’s variance requests were approved; the other two were tabled.
The board granted the request of Hutton ST 17, LLC, for variances to reduce the required front setback, parking space and drive aisle dimensions, and grass area separation between parking and right-of-way or property line for new O’Reilly Auto Parts retail store at 1536 Michigan St. in the community business district.
Barbara Dulworth, community development director, said city staff reviewed the proposed development and believed that variances were appropriate, but recommended approving modified variances from the original plan proposed.
Hutton’s plan proposes 27 parking spaces. Staff recommended 22 spaces since the “site is not constrained with adjacent parking opportunities.” She also said having 27 parking spaces at this location would be “over-built.”
Benjamin M. Berry, engineer with Berry Engineers, and representative for Hutton, the developer of the O’Reilly store, told the board he admits they are “asking for quite a bit” with the various variance requests, but noted the lot has been vacant for several years and has been a challenge to redevelop.
“There were a number of obstacles that we had to go through to just to get to a point to present a plan to you that would work for them (O’Reilly); that would work for them operationally, corporately,” Berry said. “Of the modifications Barbara mentioned, one of the biggest problem with that is the reduction of parking that has reduced the number of parking count to about 21 spaces…”
He pointed out the number of parking spots at other auto part stores in town range from 27 to 32 spaces. He told the board their request would remain as follows:
• Reduction of rear and side setbacks. Hutton asked for the rear yard depth be reduced to 12.5 feet and the west side yard width be reduced to 5 feet. The code requires the rear yard depth to be a minimum of 25 feet and the required side yard width to be a minimum of 10 feet.
• Reduce minimum parking facility dimensions. Hutton asked for the minimum parking space size be reduced to 18-feet-long by 9-feet-wide and the minimum driveway aisle be reduced to 24-feet-wide. The code required minimum parking space size for 90-degree parking is 19-foot by 9-foot-wide and the required minimum driveway aisle is 25-feet-wide.
• Reduction of grass area separation between parking facility and right of way or adjoining property. Hutton requested it be reduced to zero feet. The minimum separation the code allows from the public right of way is at least 10 feet.
Also, the minimum separation the code allows from adjoining properties is 10-feet. Hutton requested for it to be reduced to 2 feet.
The board asked what the chances would be O’Reilly would move forward with the development if the modified variances the city presented were granted. Berry said he believes it would be low; less than a 50 percent chance they would agree to move forward. He noted that only once O’Reilly approved a store with 22 parking spaces to be developed, and that the “vast majority“ of developments are shut down if there were under 30 spots. He noted that O’Reilly has gone back and forth several other times already over the last year to shut the project down in Sidney.
He said if the variances were approved, he felt construction would begin by the end of winter or early springtime.
After some further brief discussion, the board voted to grant the original variance request put forth by Hutton.
In other business, the board agreed to table the request of Chris Harlamert, owner of Rocky Creek Farm, LLC, for a conditional use permit and variances to reduce the required front setback and grass area separation between parking and right-of-way for a self storage facility on the west side of Folkerth Avenue, north of Michigan Street in the community business district. Harlamert’s requests will be tabled until the board’s Nov. 19 meeting.
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