Ellis Zimmerman had two petitions for use variances for the sale of sheds at two different locations in the city before the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals on Monday night but only one was approved.
The first use variance was for the parcel at 1661 W. Lake St., Assistant City Planner Bekah Schrag told the Board. It is surrounded by a Commercial-2 district, as well as county residential. The surrounding area includes a nearby gas station, fast food franchise and storage units.
“This lot is currently vacant and has been for over a decade. Pending an architect’s guidance, the petitioner will either remove or remodel the existing structure,” she said. “Given the surrounding context and history of the vacant lot, the Planning Department suggests the Board review this request favorably when delineated with the findings of facts.”
The Planning Department did not receive any letters or emails remonstrating against the Lake Street petition.
Zimmerman told the Board he and his wife own the lots and they would like the opportunity to sell portable sheds on those lots.
Curtis Stavedahl and his wife Andrea purchased 1621 W. Lake St. last summer. He said they have a total of three renters on their property – two in the main building and one in the shed. They were concerned about the sheds blocking the view of the properties next to the sheds, including theirs. Curtis said they wanted to know how many sheds were going to be put on the property and where they would be allowed to be placed on the property.
Schrag, reading from city code, said the sheds had to be, “horizontally, 10 feet from the travel surface of the street or 3 feet of the travel surface of an alley and vertically between 3 and 8 feet high.”
Andrea asked about the right-of-way and said for them to put a sign up, they have to be “away from the road with that right-of-way and it can only be 8 feet tall. So when we pay $5-$8,000 for a sign, is it going to be blocked by sheds?”
Curtis pointed out that their neighbors have signs that are taller than 8 feet and their building is already somewhat visibly blocked by Boggs Automotive on one side and the sheds will block the view of their building on the other side.
Board President Tom Allen said that’s a legitimate concern but he didn’t know if the Board could do anything about it. He suggested that once the sheds go in, if there’s a problem with their sign they could petition the BZA for a sign variance to have a taller sign.
Board member Tammy Dalton made a motion to approve the use variance and member Dan Smith seconded. It was approved 4-0.
Zimmerman’s second petition was for the parcel at 2421 E. Center St., on the corner of Argonne Road and Center Street. The property is surrounded by other Commercial-2 and -3 districts.
“This property abuts the East Market Street Neighborhood Plan and is depicted as needing sidewalk enhancement to establish safe travel for schools, parks and recreation. Part of the East Market Street Neighborhood Plan is to stabilize the residential aspects and character of the area and to stop the advancement of commercial and industrial uses that decrease the neighborhood character and quality of life. Within the plan, the businesses along Center Street are suggested to be low intensity uses to maintain residential character and scale,” Schrag said. “Moreover, Argonne Road is a critical gateway to Winona Lake and the East Market Neighborhood Plan suggests that commercial areas along the Argonne Road corridor evolve to be more residentially friendly in design and context to create higher neighborhood vitality.”
Based on the location of the parcel and the proximity to the Neighborhood Plan, she said the Planning Department suggests the Board deny the request.
An email was received from Wes Stouder, managing member, WRW LLC, remonstrating against the petition. In part, the letter stated, “we think this use would not be appropriate for the site. The access at this busy intersection (Center and Parker streets) would preclude ready ingress/egress, causing negative impact to existing neighboring businesses. Additionally, this type of use generally requires the display of various offerings which would further impede visibility for traffic and potential patrons of existing commercial enterprises in the area.”
Zimmerman asked if the Board would consider allowing the shed sales if they put them further back on the property. Allen didn’t know if they could put further restrictions on it than the 10 feet already required by city code.
Board Vice President Rick Keeven asked him if he had already purchased the property or was it contingent on the BZA approval. Zimmerman said they already bought the property and since it was commercial property, and they are from Ohio, they weren’t aware of any concerns regarding the property.
Allen said, “That intersection has been lousy since it started.”
“Well, at both ends,” Keeven agreed.
Smith made a motion to deny it, and Dalton seconded it. The motion to deny was approved unanimously.