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Development picks up in Chardon
Development picks up in Chardon
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
The city of Chardon may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to development.
The city, which has seen a recent drought of development since the economy took a dive, heard two proposals for development Monday.
Tom and Wendy Frankmann, owners of the Animal Clinic of Chardon, brought a proposal before the city's planning commission to replace their clinic with a larger building on the site.
In a second proposal, the commission discussed informally the possible construction of an office building on vacant land at the northeast corner of Daniels Drive and Wilson Mills Road.
The commission cleared the way for the veterinarian clinic, voting unanimously to approve a variance that allows the business to continue operating while a new building is completed to the rear of the property.
The variance allows for the new building to be set back 141 feet, rather than the required 65 feet.
Steve Yaney, the city's planning and zoning administrator, said his office did not have a problem with the variance.
He said the intent of the setbacks was to prevent "a sea of parking" in front of buildings, which he called the "Walmart effect."
But he said the clinic is on the fringes of the city and is adjacent to industrial development, making the requirement less critical.
Mr. Yaney said the clinic would continue to operate in the older building while the new one is built. Upon completion, he said, the older building will be torn down and parking installed.
He said an architect the city now keeps on retainer for review of projects gave his approval, saying he was "very pleased with the design" of the new building.
Mr. Yaney said the new building meets city code requirements, other than the variance.
Commission member Andrew Blackley said he likes what he sees. "I agree with the architect," he said. "It's a beautiful building and I'm glad it's being built in Chardon."
Wendy Frankmann said a 6,800-square-foot facility will replace the existing 2,400-square-foot building. She said the larger facility will accommodate more animals and offer a separate entrance for dogs and cats, making it a more cat-friendly environment.
She said the new facility will include an intensive care unit, a public education area for training and classes and a comfort room. She said the clinic also plans to expand its emergency services with longer hours.
The commission also heard from James P. Love, of Love Insurance Agency, who said he is looking to expand his business in the city. He said he operates an office now in Willoughby.
Mr. Love is proposing an office building across from Daniels Drive on the west side of Wilson Mills Road to the south of a music store. He said his business as well as two tenants, possibly medical, will occupy the single story, brick building with a gabled roof.
A Chardon Township resident, Mr. Love said he had been looking for a property and believed he found one with the Wilson Mills location. However, he said, it required some help from the city to make the project happen.
He said the lot is a narrow one at 106.9 feet wide. His plans call for a 75-foot-wide building, which would not allow it to meet the sideyard setback requirements.
Mr. Yaney said required setbacks are 25 feet from residential area and 15 feet from commercial areas.
Mr. Love is proposing 20 feet on the residential side and 10 feet on the commercial, he said. He said he also planned evergreen plantings on the residential side and possibly a fence also to screen the building.
Mr. Love said, without the variances, he will to make the building even narrower and eliminate some of the architectural details, such as the gabled roof. He said a planned central lobby area also would have to be eliminated.
Kenneth Miller, the commission's chairman, said he believed the variances should not be a problem. "I think it's a fantastic addition to the city," he said, calling the variances "very reasonable."
Commission member and Councilwoman Leslie Bednar asked whether the city was going against its comprehensive plan for development by allowing parking in the front of the building, instead of behind it. She said that plan was adopted by the city for aesthetics reasons.
Mr. Miller said that plan was adopted for specific purposes, such as avoiding the look of strip malls. However, he said, anyone trying to develop this property would face the same constraints with the narrow lot. "We could tell him to go away and maybe someday someone will come to work with the constraints of that lot," he said.
He said the city is filled with difficult lots that were created before the city adopted setback rules and now must look for creative ways to allow development there.
Mr. Love said he attempted to acquire more property on either side of the lot, but property owners were not amenable to selling.
Mr. Yaney said the rear lot parking is not required in the commercial district in which this is located. He said the property is in a C-3 zone, not a C-2 where rear lot parking is required.
Commission member Andrew Blackley said many of the surrounding development, such as Rite-Aid and a laundromat, have parking visible from the street.
Mr. Blackley also voiced support for the project. "I love this development," he said. "I'm glad you're moving to Chardon.
The commission also voiced no opposition to Mr. Love's proposal to place the building in the center of the lot, a deviation from requirements.
Following the meeting, Mr. Love said he planned to immediately start working on the engineering aspects of the projects. "Spring construction would be fabulous," he said.
Mr. Love said his family-run insurance has been in business since 1950. He said the Chardon project could mean 12 new employees for the city.
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