Architect Scott Webb opened his presentation before Council Oct. 2 saying the idea for the change actually came from Council. He said that discussion focused on the Neighborhood Business designation because standards would allow for more appropriate use and allow for the uses being proposed in the planning for the site.
Noting that surrounding uses include medical and veterinary facilities, a hotel across the street and residential, Webb said this is an appropriate designation.
“The site is undeveloped and surrounded by non-conforming uses,” he said. “If there is a call for additional medical uses, that would be allowed. This is the first use of this zoning designation.”
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In his staff report to Council about the ordinance, Community Development Director Sam Perry noted the Planning Commission had voted 7-0 in support of the proposed zoning change.
“The option for a NB district was created in 2016 for small businesses close to residential areas. The consensus of the commission was that this should be tried as a way to encourage some controlled development on this vacant lot,” Perry wrote.
Several Council members spoke in favor of the proposal, favoring the opportunity to try out the as-yet-unused designation.
“I love this. We are so happy to see someone come through with a mixed use,” Mayor Kate Rousmaniere said.
Council member David Prytherch followed that by saying this proposal is the purpose of the zoning designation.
“I’m really hoping this is a successful effort,” he said. “We’re experiencing a situation where new businesses are having difficulty finding a place on which to build.”
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The credit union is being moved out of its Miami University location on Wells Mill Drive and will retain its current College Corner Pike location, but wanted a banking facility closer to the central area of town.
Rick Parker, representing the credit union, said they opened in 1969 on the campus with then-President Phil Shriver opening the first account. Now, he said, there are 6,000 members and they hold $21 million in local mortgage loans and $8.3 million in personal loans, employing 17 people.
He said plans are for the College Corner Pike location to serve as executive offices with the primary commercial banking services located on Lynn Street.
They are, therefore, requesting a conditional use for that site in order to offer drive-through service.
Maria Schertler, of The Architectural Group, is the applicant and presented plans for the site along with artist renderings of the building.
“Location is important. We wanted it in a general business district near Miami University,” she said. “We first looked at using existing buildings but the size just would not serve that. This is a small site. The building does fit snugly.”
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She said there are currently nine trees on the lot and they plan for 11 and Perry, in his staff report, said Planning Commission imposed a condition that mature trees be protected and dumpster screening be added.
He noted the commission had voted 7-0 to approve the conditional use.
Vice Mayor Steve Dana said there had been a previous question about stormwater on the site.
Schertler said that is part of their considerations.
“A civil engineer is on the project and has looked at options,” she said. “We will meet our requirements.”
Dana thanked her for that assurance and added, “This fills a niche in our community.”
Both ordinances will be on Tuesday’s agenda for second reading.