A variance request sought for a proposed new multi-family complex planned along South Main Street did not pass muster with the Bowling Green Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday.
The issue ended on a tied 3-3 vote, meaning the variance was not approved.
The variance request was made by Jimmy McCune, on behalf of Wallick Communities and property owners Lloyd and Linda Fite. The variance sought to allow the construction of the 96-unit complex, which would provide 202 off-street parking spaces rather than the required 358 off-street parking spaces – a difference of 156 spaces – and which would exceed the 40% maximum lot coverage by up to 10% for R-3 Multiple Family Residential, Moderate Density zoning.
According to documents submitted to the ZBA, the planned development would include six buildings and a clubhouse. It would be located in the area of the 900 block of South Main Street’s east side, and behind the 200 and 300 blocks of Napoleon Road.
One document submitted for the project stated that the 202 parking spaces would equate to two spaces per unit, along with 14 additional spaces for the complex’s proposed clubhouse.
“According to our architect’s calculation,” the document reads, “the required number of parking spaces for the proposed use under R-3 zoning code is approximately 358 spaces. Given the size of our site and the number of units planned, the site cannot accommodate 358 parking spaces. With public transit options available and Wallick’s history of operating similar projects, we believe (two) spaces per unit is adequate.”
It was noted that the project would consist of one-, two- and three-bedroom units.
“The target population is going to be local workforce,” said McCune, who is Wallick’s vice president for development. He said they are seeking to apply for Ohio Housing Trust Funds for the project next week, and that rents will be targeted to individuals making up to 80% of the area’s median income.
“We tried to architecturally add more parking space,” McCune told the board, “but that would essentially cut into our club house and our stormwater basin” which “needs to be a specific size for stormwater runoff. … I would say that in terms of the parking, if we were to meet the requirements, our unit count would have to be significantly reduced, thereby making the project financially infeasible” based on the funding they would be permitted to receive.
During the board’s lengthy discussion of the issue, questions and concerns ranged from whether students could potentially rent the units, to who would operate the complex, to whether a smaller number of units could work there. The parking issue, however, was the major focus of discussion.
“I’m just not real comfortable that 202 parking spaces is going to be enough for the size of the individuals you expect to have in your apartments,” said board chair Judy Ennis.
“The parking spaces, I think, are just asking for trouble,” said member Chris Ostrowski.
As the discussion continued, Planning Director Heather Sayler did note that the city is in the process of reworking its zoning code, and that reductions in paving and parking requirements are part of the considerations.
“I just want to be careful that, as the city is telling you this is a priority, you’re weighing that with your decision,” she said.
“I do think our parking calculations are very, very extreme and we’ve calculated the entire building, the entire footprint – hallways, closets, everything. I’m not advocating either way,” Sayler said, saying she wants the board to be cautious.
Member Hobart Johnson said he had no opposition to this type of development, but that the parking issue was a concern.
“I also recognize what the city is thinking about doing in the future (with its zoning code changes),” he said, “but because we don’t have a firm answer on that, I’m reticent to shoot for something in the dark and hope that it’s something close to what the city wants to do later on.”
“We are in a cycle,” said Tyler Ponder, who was identified as a colleague of McCune, of the project. “Cycles come and cycles go. This opportunity may or may not be here next year.”
McCune noted that their agreement with the Fites regarding the property only goes through this round of funding, and that if they were denied the funding in this cycle they could not apply again until next year.
“I constantly hear about the need for housing in town,” said board member Matt Bostdorff. “I guess I’d like to keep those folks in town and … keep their tax dollars here in town as well.”
“I’d like to see some reduction in units,” said member Rose Hess.
When the vote was taken on the issue, Bostdorff, Ennis and Robert Waddle voted for the measure, while Hess, Johnson and Ostrowski voted against – a tie vote, meaning that the variance request failed.
“You can work with the planning department to see if you can do something different with your parking spaces,” Ennis said to McCune, “or you can go to the court of common pleas.”
Also at the meeting, the board:
• Elected officers for the year. Ennis will continue as chair, Johnson as vice-chair and Hess as secretary.
• Unanimously approved a request by Bill Schoenherr, on behalf of NovaVision Inc. at 524 E. Woodland Circle for a variance for a 10-foot-by-288.1-foot driveway that would not be a hard, dustless surface for its entire length and area as required.
• Unanimously approved a request by Lee Liebetreu, 909 N. Main St., for a variance to allow the construction of a U-shaped deck around a pool, measuring 32 feet wide and 16 feet deep, which would encroach 19 feet into the required 20-foot rear yard setback of the property.