Developer to make case for Middletown business met with opposition

9:56 a.m. Wednesday, May 3, 2017 Middletown
The properties at 1811 and 1835 Central Avenue, Big Al’s Muffler shop and a former Nationwide Insurance office, have sales contingent on the buyer getting all of the appropriate approvals from Middletown. The proposed O’Reilly Auto Parts store has been met with opposition from downtown Middletown business leaders. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

A developer for O’Reily Auto Parts will make its case today before the Middletown Board of Zoning Appeals.

The developer is appealing the March 8 denial of its request by the city Historic Commission. A number of downtown business owners as well as Downtown Middletown Inc. spoke in opposition to the proposed project at that meeting.

Developer SimonCRE is seeking five variances in the city’s Urban Central Core Zoning District to construct a new $2 million O’Reily Auto Parts store at 1811 and 1835 Central Ave. in the downtown district.

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According to the city staff report, the variances requested include:

A sixth variance was removed as the developer agreed to construct the building’s exterior with brick instead of CMU block as originally proposed, according to Jeffrey Green, city zoning administrator.

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Mike Robinette, of the recently-opened Liberty Spirits, said the reported change in exterior finish is “a step in the right direction but it depends if it’s within the zoning code.”

“I think a lot of people are concerned and it depends on what gets presented,” he said.

Robinette has been vocal about the proposed development and has been advocating that the developer adjust their plans to conform to the city’s zoning code. He also created a Facebook page called “STOP O’Reilly’s Strip Mall Development.”

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If the city Board of Zoning Appeals approves variances that were requested and denied by the Historic Commission, O’Reilly will still need to get Historic Commission’s approval before being able to proceed with building the store.

Should the BZA deny the variances, the developer could take the matter to the Butler County Common Pleas Court for resolution.

The hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the lower level of the Middletown City Building.

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