Middletown Historic Commission OKs O’Reilly Auto Parts store

The Middletown Historic Commission gave its unanimous approval Thursday to allow a developer to build a new $2 million O’Reilly Auto Parts store in downtown Middletown.

SimonCRE of Scottsdale, Ariz., faced opposition from downtown business owners who believed the site plan for the proposed 9,515 square-foot building did not fit into the Urban Core Central District zoning for the two parcels located at 1811 and 1835 Central Ave. The 1.28-acre site is bounded by Charles Street, Grimes Street and Central Avenue.

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At its March 2 meeting, the Historic Commission denied a Certificate of Appropriateness regarding demolition, building placement and signage for the proposed store. While it approved the demolition of the two current structures, the commission denied the building placement in the center of the two parcels as well as the building materials to be used, transparency of windows, not having enough architectural breaks, and the site plan.

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Jeff Green, city zoning administrator, said that the developer, city officials, some downtown business owners and Downtown Middletown Inc. worked for several weeks to revise the site plan and made other adjustments to try and meet the intent of the UCC zoning district as well as some of the concerns and comments from the commission and other downtown business owners.

Those changes resulted in a rework of the site plan and building placement, a change in type of exterior building materials to be used and adding other architectural features. It also resulted in gaining support of DMI and some other business owners.

Green said the developer will need to obtain city planning and building permits before construction can begin.

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“This project is totally different than what it was before,” said Dustin Hurley, a local attorney representing the developer.

Hurley said O’Reilly’s was going to cancel the project but opted to work with city officials and downtown business owners to discuss changes that would meet the UCC zoning regulations.

Steve Lane of DMI read a letter of support for the project.

Because the Historic Commission denied various requests, the developer sought and received five variances at the May 3 city Board of Zoning Appeals meeting. The matter returned to the Historic Commission for approval of the certificate of appropriateness so that the project could move forward and had the recommendation of city staff.

The commission’s approval had one condition that the developer install awnings over the windows facing Central Avenue.

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There was no opposition at Thursday’s meeting. However, any affected property owner can appeal the commission’s decision to the Butler County Common Pleas Court.

“We’re glad to see some closure and a positive outcome from a long process with the city and community stakeholders,” Hurley said.

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