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Yogurt shop variance request frozen for now

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 by Gene Davis

The Board of Adjustment gave an overall warm reception to a parking variance request sought for a new frozen yogurt shop on East Sixth Street.

However, instead of granting the variance request, several BOA members said they thought the Development Assistance Center could potentially waive the parking requirement for the building located at 1105 E. Sixth St. As a result, the BOA postponed a vote on the variance request until Jim Bennett, who sought the variance on behalf of Rosa Santis, talked again with the DAC.

“I don’t think you need a variance in my heart of hearts,” Board Member Ricardo De Camps told Bennett.

The proposed variance would waive the six parking spaces the yogurt shop would need under city code. Bennett said that providing six spaces, even counting adjacent metered parking spots, would be unfeasible for the potential yogurt shop.

“There is no room for parking. There has never been any room for parking on this site,” Bennett said.

The existing business at the location had not needed to provide any parking spaces because the building, which has long been zoned commercial, predates the city’s parking requirements, meaning the location had been grandfathered. However, Santis would need to change the building’s zoning to open the yogurt shop. The zoning change would void the existing parking waiver.

Bennett told commissioners that he didn’t expect the shop to bring many new cars to the area.

“We don’t think this type of use would be one where, perhaps, someone is going to drive all across town to get a cup of yogurt,” he said. “We anticipate the majority of the people doing business and living in the area.”

De Camps noted that the building is in a Transit-Oriented District, which aims to create pedestrian-friendly communities. He said he thought the TOD designation should allow the DAC to waive all parking requirements for the business.

“You are in the TOD, and the intent of the TOD is to encourage pedestrian activity,” he told Bennett.

Board members sprinkled the discussion on the yogurt shop’s parking situation with comments about the rapid growth of the East Sixth Street area. Or, as Member Michael Von Ohlen put it: “That area is just crazy.”

Multiple board members brought up the plans to redevelop the nearby Plaza Satillo and wondered if the development could open up parking spots for the yogurt shop.

For his part, Bennett said he would talk again with the DAC about waiving the parking requirements.

“If you have to come back and that the BOA variance is needed, I will offer the waiver,” De Camps said.


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