City Council approved a conditional use request for a new building they plan to construct across from their current location. The new building will include a retail showroom, storage as well as wash and service bays. Although the wash bays will only be used to clean tractors before they are delivered to a customer or serviced, in order to avoid any issues in the future, Southern States chose to file a conditional use permit as car washes are restricted in a C3 zoning area.
“The applicant did seek a variance from the Board of Adjustment for reduction in the off street parking requirement, which was approved by the Board of Adjustment on December 14, other than the parking variance request that was approved, the preliminary plans meet the minimum requirements of chapter,” Rob Pierce, City Planner said. “The application was reviewed by the Planning Commission, and they recommended approval with a vote of five to zero.”
Cliff Mumford, a civil engineer with Davis, Bowen & Friedel explained that Southern States has owned the additional parcel of land since 1999 with plans to expand services by building a new retail location on the parcel.
“Earlier this year, a zoning map amendment was approved to change the zoning from Industrial to C3 Highway commercial which is in line with the adjacent zoning parcels on either side. However, this is a diversified business that doesn’t fit neatly inside the C3 zoning box and therefore some flexibility is needed and hence the conditional use approval that we’re applying for,” Mumford said. “Some of the uses here, the new store would include a small landscape nursery, outside bullpen for landscaping and farm supplies, tractor showroom and sales, space for repairing and servicing small tractors and small engine garden equipment. And the store will also contain retail sales for garden supplies with offices on the second store for employees. The existing store on the south side of 14 and Williamsville will continue operations and maintain the agronomy and energy services, propane tank filling and that sort of thing.”
Mumford explained that when a tractor is sold, Southern States often washes it before it is delivered to a customer as a courtesy. For some repairs, tractors must be washed in order to complete the work necessary. For this reason, wash bays would be included in the new building.
“So, as Rob mentioned in the C3 zoning code, it lists automotive repair and carwash as uses that require conditional use approval. This application doesn’t propose either of these uses however, the service bays and wash bays could be misconstrued to be similar,” Mumford said. “Therefore, out of an abundance of caution and in coordination with the planning director we filed the conditional use application. So, in closing, as stated in the planning staff report, the proposed use is surrounded by similar businesses. It is in conformance with the comprehensive plan that will not detract from neighboring properties.”
Councilman Andy Fulton asked whether propane would be stored underground or above ground. Gary Rhodes, General Manager of Southern States explained that there would be a 1,000 gallon tank at the rear of the store that could be used to fill small propane tanks. Councilman Dan Marabello questioned whether the new property would be landscaped similar to the existing property. Rhodes stated that it would. Councilman Jason James asked about the parking variance that was granted.
“For certain uses, you need certain amount of parking, and this has two stories. And upstairs they have some offices and meeting rooms, but they will be used by staff who would already be on site, something that was not going to generate additional trips and parking requirements. So, it’ll be somewhere where the staff can get together and meet so no need for too much parking,” Mumford said. “I think there were, we probably overestimated the required number of parking spots there, but we had 175 spaces as being required. It seems like a pretty high number for this type of use, and we provided 119 spaces.”
Councilman Fulton was concerned about foot traffic going between the two buildings as Williamsville Road was not a safe road to cross. Mumford did not feel there would be significant foot traffic between the two locations.
Council approved the request with a vote of 7 to 0 as Councilwoman Katrina Wilson was not present at the meeting.
“It complies with the zoning standards, and it is going to enhance the community,” Councilman Marabello said. “They do everything nicely at Southern States. I feel proud of what you do for the city.”
Councilman Todd Culotta felt Southern States had been an important part of the business community and it was good to see growth.
“I like to see a business expand,” Councilman Brian Baer said. “It’s good to see this business grow in their location and it will be convenient for citizens.”
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