The Oregon Planning Commission voted in favor of variances in the zoning code for property at 2601 Navarre Avenue to clear the way for the development of an Art Van Furniture Store.
Plans call for construction of a smaller display store at the site rather than a large, full scale building, according to Mayor Mike Seferian, who sits on the Planning Commission.
The variances were for C-2 General Commercial zoned property to reduce the required interior parking lot landscaping on the property and to reduce the type and number of required buffer trees and shrubs in the right of way buffer yard on the property.
The property, at the northeast corner of Navarre and Wheeling, was previously a gas station that has been torn down. The property has long been considered an eyesore, according to Seferian.
Tim Horton’s is east of the site, and Oriental Gardens Chinese Restaurant is to the north.
Brian Ellis, the engineer and surveyor of the project, told the Commission that many people have wanted to develop the site, but were unable to put together anything feasible. He said Art Van Furniture Store is reputable, and that the Michigan based retailer had put together a realistic site plan that is suitable to the city’s needs.
The Ohio Department of Transportation’s acquisition of some of the rights of way on Wheeling and Navarre has limited the proposed size of the building at the site. The developer wants a 5,000 square foot building, with a potential restaurant at the side, but due to the zoning code requirements, has been unable to make it happen.
Ellis said Art Van wants to keep the entrance off Navarre as an “enter only” entrance because the road has a lot of traffic. The company plans to do away with an existing drive to help increase planting in the area and alleviate the reduction in landscaping. Art Van would also have an enter/exit drive off of Wheeling.
The Commission agreed to reduce the required interior parking lot landscaping from 570 square feet to 310 square feet, as requested.
“They’re still going to come up short in the parking lot by about three spots as required by the size of the building,” Seferian told The Press. “But traditionally, people don’t flock to furniture stores. Most of the time, you see a handful of people in the parking lot.” The parking lot could be expanded when the city buys Oriental Gardens to build a road that will improve safety at the Navarre and Wheeling intersection, he added.
“Once we purchase he Oriental Gardens Restaurant, we don’t need all of the property. We just need enough to put the road in. And the remainder, we’ll sell to Art Van and they’ll have enough additional space. They could actually add onto the building and have enough parking spaces,” he said.
The Commission also agreed to overlook the required plantings in the right of way and allow the city’s public service director to approve plantings in the right of way to avoid creating a site distance problem.
Seferian said he as in support of the variances.
“It will give them more room to put the building up by using that buffer,” said Seferian. “But the more important reason is, in that intersection, the buffer at the front would be a visual problem and safety matter for cars going in there. We would not want to court a buffer in front of that building and cause a line of site issue.”
The city had been looking for years to find a suitable development on the property that would not cause safety hazards due to congested traffic on Navarre and Wheeling, he said. Art Van is considered a “primary destination location,” a safer alternative than a gas station, where people come and go constantly, he added.
“Most people looking for a couch or other furniture, they leave home knowing where they are going. They would take the safest route at Wheeling to pull in, versus that turn going east on Navarre and trying to cross those four lanes of traffic trying to get in,” said Seferian.