Note: The Icon did not attend this meeting. Following are the meeting's minutes. The property under discussion is the former Morey's Coffee Shop at the corner of East College and Triplett Drive.
Date: March 29, 2010
Time: 7 p.m.
Property Location: 114 E. College Avenue
Planning: Jerry Cupples, Bob Amstutz, Dick Ramseyer, and Rich Johnson
Administration: Nancy Benroth Asst. Admin., Fred Rodabaugh, Mayor, Stephen Chamberlain, Solicitor, and James Mehaffie, Administrator
Guests: Dick McGarrity, Bob Neff and Bill & Paula McKibben
Petitioner: Stan Clemens, and Mitch Kingsley, Attorney
The legal notice was published in the Bluffton News on April 8, 2010. Letters were sent to all the property owners within 200 feet of all property lines. The Village received a letter of request for a Planning Commission hearing. The $50 fee was paid.
Stan Clemens of Hancock Investment Group, LLC addressed the Commission. He stated that he is requesting the zoning change from Commercial-I to Residential-III to construct a multi-family housing unit at the site. Nearby are R-II, R-III and Industrial zones. There are no vacant R-III properties in the community. He feels that this would be something good for Bluffton.
Ramseyer stated that it meets code requirements.
Kingsley presented a plat map. He stated that 2 spaces will be available for each living unit and entrances will be located at various places. The greatest number of units to fit on this site will be (9). They will not be requesting any variances to incorporate more. It has not been decided if the unit will be condos or apartments. But if an apartment complex, it will be locally owned. Riley View Apartments is zoned C-I but is used as an R-III. This zoning change will allow for the property to be used as the correct facility for the zone. The only other R-III in Bluffton is Bluffton Arms Apartments.
114 E. College Avenue is zoned C-I and sits next to R-II properties. The zoning change to an R-III makes a better transition to the R-II properties.
The question arose if the current building is built on a dump site. The Mayor stated that it was not an actual dump site for garbage but sidewalk and asphalt from renovations from Main Street may be buried there.
It was noted that the project has (2) Council members involved in it. If this matter would go before Council, they would have to abstain.
The Commission wanted to know how much C-I property was available. A map was not available, so it could not be determined.
What stops this site from becoming Section 8 or a HUD like Riley View Apartments (subsidized) in the future? Could this happen is there was a drastic change in ownership in the future, like bankruptcy? This could not happen by changing it to an R-III. Other items would have to be approved first.
Bill McKibben does not see any type of requirements on the R-III zone change. He heard that the intentions may be (9) condos or apartments. McKibben has concerns in this area. Condo owners can rent them out to anyone they wish. It was stated that a definite plan has not been developed whether it be condos or apartments.
McGarrity stated that it would be highly unlikely that (9) buyers would be found at once to purchase condos, so Hancock Investment Group would own them until sold. Selling them could take a period of time.
Currently the plans are that each unit will have 2 bedrooms.
Amstutz would like it stated if they are to be condos or apartments. That could not be answered because it hasn't been decided and there are no plans. Condos would be nice there but they could be tough to sell next to Riley View, a gas station, a football field and a derelict building.
The issue of flooding was questioned. During the last flood there was an inch left at the top of the bridge. The bridge elevation is lower than the proposed property. The multi-family unit will be built as high as this point or higher. The actual property is not in the flood plain. It stops at the sidewalk.
It was asked if stipulation can be set if re-zoned. The answer is no. As long as the use fits the zoning code, nothing can be stipulated like in a conditional use request. It is the intention to have a plan with no variances. Homeowner Associations for subdivisions can have stipulations but not Council.
Johnson made a motion; seconded by Ramseyer to recommend the zoning change from C-I to R-III for the property located at 114 E. College Avenue to Council. All voted yes. Motion passed.
The hearing before Council will be set for May 10, 1020. If approved, and Ordinance will be drafted and read that night. Notice of hearing will be sent to all the property owners within 200 feet.
Cupples made a motion; seconded by Johnson to adjourn. Motion passed.