O’Reilly’s Auto Parts plans to construct a 9,000-square foot store at State and Buffalo Streets in Conneaut.
The proposed construction was the main topic of the Planning Commission’s March 7 meeting in Council chambers.
Just a few things stand in the way of the project.
One of them – the lack of a Design Review Board in the city – was taken care of by Conneaut City Council on Monday night with the passing of an ordinance amending one of the city’s codified ordinances that gives some of the defunct Design Review Board’s responsibilities to the Planning Commission.
Conneaut City Manager Jim Hockaday explained to City Council during its 5:45 p.m. March 13 work session that the Ordinance #12-17 up for vote that evening would give the Planning Commission jurisdiction over four elements of O’Reilly’s site plan: utilities, ingress and egress, codes, and parking.
Most cities’ Design Review Boards review projects in historic districts. In Conneaut, downtown commercial project applications in areas zoned B-3 (business) require a site plan review and certificate from the Design Review Board if commercial signage and demolition are involved.
Without a Design Review Board, the Planning Commission is now in charge of approving O’Reilly’s plans and issuing a certificate.
To move ahead with construction, three homes are slated for demolition.
To ascertain their historic significance, Hockaday secured the services of Kent architect Rick Hawksley, of “Design With A Vision” (DWAV).
In the past week, Hawksley looked at the homes, wrote up summaries, and determined that two of them which face Buffalo Street have architectural value of historic significance.
Facing $15,000 per house in demolition costs, the city is contemplating offering these homes for a 30-day period to anyone who is interested. They may move the structures to a new location and restore them.
If no one wants them, the homes will be demolished to make room for the new building.
“It’s fair, because we really don’t know what market we have for historic structures,” Hockaday said.
The Planning Commission was to hold a special meeting March 14 to vote using the temporary authority given them by City Council the previous night.
Hockaday said that the Zoning Board of Appeals will need to approve several variances with the project, including an exit plan, side yard, and the number of parking spaces.
Hockaday said that current code in a B-1 zone requires 66 parking spaces.
“That’s huge,” he said. “Our code is egregiously high. It’s not needed for a 9,000-square-foot building.
It’s not close to reality.”
In addition, Hockaday told Council on Monday night that a large parking lot will create more run-off.
“Our system struggles to handle it now,” he said.
Regarding the Design Review Board, Hockaday said it had not met in ten years, nor was it compelled to handle architectural reviews.
The site plans presented to the Planning Commission last week are in compliance with regarding to drainage and parking, but concerns remain about the width of an entrance driveway apron and lighting.