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Food trucks, school approved

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At their meeting on Monday, June 10, Village Planning Commission approved two conditional use applications, one for the continued use of Village BP lot for food truck vendors, and one for a Montessori school on Tower Court. BP’s application was an update of an existing conditional use permit and is effective immediately. The Montessori school must still apply for a setback variance with the Board of Zoning Appeals before opening the school.

The consideration of both issues each included a public hearing, which about 15 people total attended. Both applicants worked with Village Zoning Administrator Tamara Ennist to prepare their applications.

Two food trucks become three

In their application for conditional use of the gas station parking lot for food trucks, Village BP owners Jane and Dennis Nipper requested that their permit go from two food trucks to three, including two non-food vendors. The food trucks will be parked along the property line by the post office, and the non-food stations will be in the two parking spaces in front of Bonadies Glass Studio closest to Xenia Avenue.

Aside from mandating that the non-food vendors limit their displays to six feet in height so as not to block the Bonadies display window, the planners didn’t regulate a great deal. The food trucks are to be no more than 200 square feet in size, the individual businesses are to apply for their vendor’s permit with the Village police (for tax purposes), and the property owner will ensure that the vendors obtain the proper health department licenses.

And though they didn’t require it, Planning Commission did strongly encourage the BP owners to allow their vendors to use their restrooms, to provide trash receptacles for the vendors and to allow enough space for seating for the vendors. Ye Olde Trail Tavern owner Cathy Christian requested that all three issues be addressed so that other businesses in the area, including the Tavern, aren’t burdened with the additional demand for restrooms, as they have been in the past.

Village BP had previously limited the use of its restrooms to its staff due to safety concerns and the location of the night-time cashier. The business had encouraged its vendors to use restrooms at the Train Station or the Bryan Center. But after discussion, they voluntarily agreed to allow their food vendors to use their restrooms.

“I’m hesitant to require it as a condition because bathrooms are a hassle for businesses, but it’s the cost of doing business,” said Planning Alternate Chris Till, sitting in for Matt Reed.

Village BP will also continue to provide the mandated 10 parking spaces on the lot, including one handicapped space by the convenience store that will accommodate the use of a van.

Montessori on Tower Court

A group of local parents applied with Planning Commission to open Children’s Montessori Cooperative at 107 Tower Court. Montessori teacher Melanie Ricart spoke for the group, which was asking to use the home as a private school for up to 12–14 students ages 3 to 6 years old. The school would operate between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and the home would not be used as a residence. The property is owned by Bruce Morgan, who resides in California.

For the past nine months Ricart has operated a pilot school with six students at the Tower Court address, which was until recently the home of Martha Werner-Brown, who also ran a Montessori toddler day care in her home for several years. When the Brown family decided to move, the cooperative agreed to take over the lease for the home for the new school. Though the group spent a good deal of time looking for another space for the school, none was available, Ricart said.

During the public hearing, five parents who are part of the cooperative spoke in support of the school, which in part aims to replace the recent loss of several private childcare providers in the village.

“I fully support this proposal,” local parent Luisa Bieri said. “Melanie Ricart is a talented teacher who brings a tremendous amount of ability to the community.”

Several neighbors voiced concern that they had not been made aware of the plans for a Montessori school on their short, narrow street with many potholes and poor drainage. Neighbors Amy Holbrook and Steven Roman said that the school community was already parking on neighbors’ property and causing traffic issues during drop-off and pick-up times. Holbrook was also worried that the disturbance would increase if the student count doubled, and she was concerned that the property owner lives out of state, she said.

Planning Commission members weighed in on the issue, wanting to preserve the peace in the neighborhood, but also wanting to allow the permitted land use of a school/daycare in the area. “Tower Court has never been what I would call a model street, and in recent years things have become more difficult because of the foliage,” Planner Bill Bebko said during the meeting. “If someone parks there, it will cause a choke point…but the space for a school like this is hard to get.”

In the end, the planners accounted for three parking spaces necessary for the operation’s one to two employees, which would be located in the garage and the driveway. They also required that the operators remove the hedges in front of the house to allow at least two cars to pull completely off the street when picking up and dropping off students. They also mandated that ingress occur via Tully Street and egress via West North College.

“This isn’t a perfect location, but it’s available, and this is a needed use in the village,” Till said.

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