Board of Zoning Appeals doesn’t appear to oppose, on the face of it, the
“special events center” which Prepared Services wants to operate at its
warehouse--the old Pioneer Lumber building--at 505 Grant Ave.
But members are
mostly stumped by what a “special events center” is, or might be.
At their meeting
Thursday night, members voted unanimously to continue a preliminary hearing
to their next meeting, Aug. 22, on Prepared Services’ petition for a use
variance which would permit owners Derrick Serianni and Josh Strasburg to
run a special events center at the old warehouse.
At issue, as
attorney Tim Kuiper noted: the Zoning Ordinance’s use table does not include
special events center. And Kuiper himself was unable, with the degree of
specificity requested by members, actually to define what Serianni and
Strasburg have in mind when they refer to a “special events center.”
Kuiper did take a
stab at it: “Small concerts, gatherings of over 100 people.”
Richard Riley wasn’t satisfied. “We need your business plan,” he said. “Your
hours of operation. Exits. Parking. And what do you mean by ‘special events
“This is so broad,
I don’t know what I’m voting on,” Member Kim Goldak added. “I think I’d be
more comfortable if you kind of reined it in. Give us some examples. All we
need is examples of what you’re looking for.”
“We can absolutely
do that,” Kuiper replied.
Kowalski, for his part, impressed upon Kuiper the need for thoroughness. “I
want to see a complete layout of everything that is involved. I want to know
as a board member everything you’re going to do on the property. I want to
know from A to Z. If I can’t vote for a good thing in my heart, you’re not
going to get my vote. You’ve got a great concept. Now you’ve got to bring it
one other issue as well, sort of a chicken-and-egg issue. Serianni and
Strasburg must still submit their plans for a special event center to the
Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s Fire Prevention and Building
Safety Commission, and members expressed a preference for considering the
petition after that body had approved those plans. Kuiper, however,
indicated that the commission has no desire to review those plans until
after the BZA has granted the use variance in question. “They want to
know that the zoning is appropriate for the use we’re proposing,” he said.
All the more
important, then, that Serianni and Strasburg get their ducks in a row, if
they hope to secure a use variance, Riley suggested. “You have an advantage
because you’re in a position to define the use,” he said. “It’s the business
plan we really need to take a look at.” Including capacity, hours of
operation, seating arrangements, parking, exits, and specific examples of
unanimously to continue one other preliminary hearing as well, this one on
Prepared Services’ petition for a sign variance. That sign would be located
on the North Fourth Street side of the warehouse, but Kuiper was unable to
say how much bigger the sign would be than the maximum permitted under the
Zoning Ordinance, although he guessed it to be in the neighborhood of 300
square feet, compared to the maximum allowable of 80 square feet.
also needs to include in that petition, Town Engineer Mark O’Dell observed,
a legally non-conforming sign already on the property, a relic from the
Pioneer Lumber days.
Attorney Julie Paulson emphasized that Kuiper needs to specify exactly how
big that sign would be.