Monday, February 11, 2008

In the "Zone": Commission Discusses New Buildings

By Eric Willard

The Athens Planning Commission had two important issues that members discussed on Thursday. Both issues dealt with the zoning codes, and how they will affect the projects.

176 Mill Street Project

Demolition of the building at 176 Mill Street was discussed at the meeting. The owner of the building, Penderford LLC, will take down the old house to build a new multi-family residential unit.

The proposed new building will be split into four apartments and rented separately. The building will also have a parking garage underneath it.

The Planning Commission discussed the safety issues of the building and members focused on fire safety in particular. One safety issue was having a sprinkler system in the garage.

"The only concern is the parking garage underneath. It's been done before. But, the biggest danger is someone whose car sets on fire, or it is raining and someone decides to pull their grill underneath," Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl said.

Mayor Paul Wiehl on 176 Mill St.

The building will also have special firewalls that will separate the dwellings, another fire safety issue. The building will begin sometime over summer.

Video of 176 Mill St.

Sexually-Oriented Businesses
The other issue discussed at the Planning Commission meeting was sexually-oriented businesses in Athens. This issue has come up because of a proposed gentleman's club on Stimpson Ave.

The Planning Commission noted that the current zoning code for the building where the club is proposed to go has limits on what it can be used for. The proposed site is the old "New to You" secondhand store on Stimson. This has been brought up by the owner of building, Demetrios Prokos from Pro Rentals.

"The intent was restricting drive-thrus within such a distance of an 'R(residential)' zone. With the idea that you really don't want a McDonalds next to your house," Wiehl said.

Mayor Paul Wiehl on sexually oriented businesses

Sexually oriented businesses also have special restrictions on them including being located a certain distance away from schools, parks, and landmarks. According to the Planning Commission, the bike path located next to the Hocking River is too close to the building. But there are questions as to whether the bike path is a park or not. The mayor noted there are also questions about what constitutes a landmark.

Mayor Wiehl asked, "When I think of landmarks, are we talking about the gateway to the city? With the big grindstones, or are we talking about some other statue, I don't know."

The Athens City Council last week asked the Planning Commission to consider a new ordinance limiting even further what types of development can be within 500 feet of a sexually-oriented business.

Athens Board of Zoning Appeals
Athens Rental House List

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