Planning Commission, Nov. 3, 2015

Simple Auto Imports, Vulcan Rd

Last month’s unnamed prospective car dealership seeking a high-end showroom in Wildwood turned out to be Simple Auto Imports of Vulcan Road, in Homewood. The business withdrew its request for zoning amendments that would have made indoor car sales a possibility in Wildwood.

Neither of two proposed changes to Wildwood zoning was approved tonight by the Planning Commission. The first, which would have allowed indoor car sales at Wildwood, was withdrawn by the applicant, and the second–a surprise move by a West Homewood EconoLodge owner to increase his development option in Wildwood–which would have permitted the construction of additional motels/hotels, was unanimously rejected.

Good spot for another motel in Wildwood? The Commission discussed this spot by Taco Casa, but ultimately voted against recommending the required zoning amendment.

Good spot for another motel in Wildwood? The Commission discussed this spot by Taco Casa, but ultimately voted against recommending the required zoning amendment.

The rejection may be overturned or upheld by the City Council, should the applicant choose to pursue it. The Commission did, however, make some changes to subdivision regulations regarding driveways and also settled on its meeting dates for 2016.

Members present: Chairman Billy Higginbotham, Vice-Chairman Mike Brandt, Fred Azbik, Jeffery Foster, James Riddle, and Mark Woods.

Members absent: Fred Hawkins, Battalion Chief Nickolas Hill, and James Ponseti.

Staff attendance: Donna Bridges, commission secretary; Greg Cobb, and Vanessa McGrath, city Building, Engineering and Zoning Department staff.

Audience attendance: 3

Minutes approved and other preliminary matters: Minutes for the July and August meetings were approved. At the request of Ms. McGrath, members of the Commission’s zoning committee agreed to meet to discuss Neighborhood Preservation District requirements. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 18, and once confirmed, will be posted on the city’s website.

Drives and parking pads paved with brick, flagstone or other materials are allowed, and within limits may allow homeowners to by-pass the variance process when expanding residential parking.

Drives and parking pads paved with brick, flagstone or other materials are allowed, and within limits may allow homeowners to by-pass the variance process when expanding residential parking. (Photo from Pinterest)

Approved several changes to driveway requirements for new subdivisions so match earlier council actions:  The Commission enacted the following amendments for subdivisions: 1) Reduced the minimum lot width for circular driveways (requiring two curb cuts) from 75 feet to 60 feet, relaxing the requirements to accommodate smaller lots; 2) Changed the legal definitions of “driveway” and “parking space/pad” to allow construction with pavers, bricks, flagstones, etc., in addition to concrete and asphalt; however, enlarging a driveway or parking pad with such materials does not require a variance as long as not more than 50 percent of a yard is so “paved,” a change passed in the most recent city council meeting; and 3) Increased construction requirements for driveways lying in the city right-of-way, calling for 4,000 psi grade concrete and poured at least 6 inches thick.

Some background: Although it is the Planning Commission that determines the standards for developing new residential subdivisions, in this case the Commission passed changes to match amendments the City Council had already approved for existing lots.

Simple Auto Imports is opting to stay at its Vulcan Road location for now.

Simple Auto Imports is opting to stay at its Vulcan Road location for now.

Dropped a case to change zoning for an “indoor car lot” at Wildwood after the request was withdrawn: The owner of  the used car business Simple Auto Imports, of 197 Vulcan Road, had requested a change to the zoning ordinance applicable to the Wildwood zoning district to allow car sales as long as they were confined to an indoor showroom. A discussion at the last Planning Commission meeting hinted the applicant would represent a manufacturer of expensive makes such as Mercedes, or exotic sports cars such as Lamborghini. Tonight’s case put those rumors to rest, at least for now. Applicant Simple Auto Imports withdrew the request before the public hearing began.

ECONOPOSTPONE

The EconoLodge has been working against public opinion to develop a separate extended-stay motel on its Oxmoor Road property. Two variances have been denied by a regulatory panel and a third is under consideration. Tonight it was learned that EconoLodge owner Sanjay Patel sought zoning amendments to allow a new motel in Wildwood, where the council prohibited further lodging in 2009.

Denied a request to change Wildwood’s zoning regulations to allow additional motels or hotels: Sanjay Patel, owner of the EconoLodge on Oxmoor Road, requested the change, along with a proposed 500-foot residential buffer, while he considers rebuilding part of the Oxmoor Road building as a new extended-stay motel under the West Homewood “Village” regulations. That effort has stalled after a regulatory panel turned down two requests for variances and is in the midst of considering a third. The change to the Wildwood zoning ordinance would reverse the City Council’s 2009 prohibition of any new lodging in the Planned Mixed Use District applicable at Wildwood and along Lakeshore Drive. Although commission members discussed the availability of an undeveloped parcel of land near Taco Casa in Wildwood, and even the possibility of expanding the proposed 500-foot residential buffer to 750 or 1000 feet, it was evident that none supported allowing any additional hotels in the area, and the request to recommend was unanimously rejected.

The applicant may choose to pursue the request before the council, which has the final decision.

Approved the proposed schedule of Planning Commission meetings for 2016, with the July meeting moved from July 5 to July 12.

The meeting adjourned at 6:25 pm.

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