ZBA OKs variance, conditional use permit

By Sheryl Roadcap - [email protected]

SIDNEY — The Sidney Zoning Board of Appeals approved two requests, during its Monday meeting, for a conditional use permit for a new event facility and a variance for exterior building materials on a proposed self-storage facility.

The first request OK’d by the board was that of Emily New for a conditional use permit for a private event facility at 330 E. Court St. This property had previously been the Alpha Community Center, a social services/emergency assistance agency, Barbara Dulworth, community development director, told board members. The property is in the NC, neighborhood commerce, zone in which private event center is a conditionally permitted use. The business, Vera Events LLC, intends to rent the space for private events, such as parties, showers, meetings, and other similar events as well as rent event furnishings, such as chair covers, china, bars, and signage for off-site events.

In reviewing the proposed use, Dulworth said the primary issues that have the potential to negatively impact neighboring uses and the community are traffic, noise, and parking.

• Traffic is primarily an issue of the event furnishings rental or catering for an on-site event which could require the loading of vans, trucks, or box trucks. She said city staff recommends a condition that loading and unloading must occur from the paved area at the rear of the building.

• Noise could potentially be an issue if events include music or other amplified sound late in the evening. Chapter 531 of the codified ordinances includes noise control regulation. Staff recommends a condition that events must conclude no later than 1 a.m., and a condition that events which violate the noise limits ordinance could result in the conditional use permit being revoked.

• Parking being proposed is on-street or off-site parking lots. The zoning code allows on-street parking to provide the required parking demands. There are approximately 24 on-street parking spaces in the 300 block of Court Street and an additional 78-plus off-street parking spaces within one block in public parking lots, which are available evenings and weekends, Dulworth explained.

Originally, the proposal included the use of undeveloped open areas for parking, Dulworth said. The zoning code prohibits parking on grass areas, so the proposed grass parking has been withdrawn. Staff recommends a condition that Vera Events is responsible to ensure that attendees do not park in grass areas and are directed to appropriate on-street parking or paved parking lots.

• While no mention was made in the proposal of outdoor events, Dulworth noted, there is adequate open area, as well as an open pavilion on the site, to host outdoor events. In order to ensure the safety and comfort of attendees as well as surrounding residents, staff recommends a condition requiring that each outdoor event be issued by the zoning code administrator, a special event permit to ensure compliance with fire code, health code, and the other relevant codes. Vera Events will be responsible for ensuring that a special event permit has been approved prior to any event to be held outdoors.

The board unanimously approved the permit with the conditions recommended by city staff.

The other request considered by the board Monday was that of Nick Brenner, on behalf of Menard LLC, for a variance to allow exterior building materials other than those listed in a section of the commercial building design standards of the zoning code for a public self-storage facility proposed on a county parcel located on Wisconsin Drive, between Lester Avenue and Kuther Road. The subject property is located in the CC, corridor commerce, zone in which self-storage is a principally permitted use.

Brenner, Dulworth said, is proposing exterior material on the building that is 100% steel. Per table 9 of the commercial building design standards, the front elevation must be comprised of one or a combination of the following materials: stone, brick, fiber cement, stucco, wood, engineered wood siding, or pre-cast concrete.

In addition, the regulations limit metal cladding to no more than 20% of the front elevation. She told board members the purpose of the design standards is to promote a high-quality design that is aesthetically consistent without being monotonous.

Variances may be granted in circumstances in which a practical difficulty exists in complying with the zoning code requirements for the specific property, building or use. Dulworth said the board must consider the factors listed in the code to determine if a variance is appropriate. Staff reviewed the factors, she said, before going into detail on the numerous factors to be considered.

In analyzing these conditions, Dulworth said city staff finds no special circumstances that apply to this property or the proposed use that cause a practical difficulty. In addition, the surrounding commercial area does not include other buildings with metal front facades.

One building, Goffena Furniture, was found with metal material on the side, but the front façade is a combination of cement/stone materials, Dulworth said. Staff further found that the granting of the requested variance could have a detrimental effect to property in the neighborhood due to the visual and aesthetic effect of the proposed materials, and therefore Dulworth said staff recommends the board to deny the request.

Despite city staff’s findings and recommendation, Dulworth said the board can choose to grant a modified variance with an lesser percentage of steel on the exterior than proposed, if it chooses to do so.

Brenner addressed the board explaining the reasoning for their request and the quality of the steel product they wish to use. He noted they may need to take a step back and reconsider the project if unable to use that material on the exterior when asked why not choose a different product, by Board member Tom Ehler, who was conducting the meeting in Chair Mary Paulus’ absence. When asked if they ran into this issue in other places when putting forth other proposals, Brenner said this was the first time Menard has had this problem. He noted all of their other locations use this exact product and and have this same look, and they haven’t had any other issues previously.

Board member Jim Fortkamp asked if board members could retreat into an executive session to discuss the matter privately. Board members left the room for a short executive session, and upon returning into a public session, agreed to grant a modified variance with 100% steel on the north and east side of the building and 49% of steel on the south side (front) exterior, with no variance on the west side of the building.

In other business, Paulus’ absence was excused by the board.

By Sheryl Roadcap

[email protected]