GREENVILLE – Greenville Planning & Zoning has turned down a request for a variance for a proposed downtown business. Members of the committee unanimously turned down the request after hearing from local business owners who had concerns with the business.
Chris Lovett wanted to put in a Harley Davidson store on South Broadway and was seeking a conditional use variance for a property that is attached, but has an address at 112 W. Fifth Street. Lovett said he planned to do minor work at that property, such as attaching accessories that were purchased at his store front and oil changes on motorcycles. The conditional use variance would be for disassemble and reassemble.
Business and property owners did not oppose the retail store, but argued the “repair shop” would cause problems due to noise and fumes coming from the facility. Tammy Hodges, manager of Readmore Hallmark, which is two doors down from the proposed business, asked the commission to take into consideration the use of flammable materials, such as oils, aerosols and shop towels that might be used at the repair shop.
Kirsten Berghoff, owner of Sadie Grace, located next door to the proposed business, said, “My goal is to see downtown thrive. I am delighted for the prospect of a new retail business adjacent to my own; however, my concerns are many with the repair shop.” She continued, “A motorcycle repair shop would not fit the essential character of downtown Greenville.” She also claimed there would be noise and fumes coming from the shop. “I hope this committee will support those of us who have been a part of downtown Greenville for many years and will continue to be a part of downtown Greenville for many years to come.”
Attorney Travis Fleihman spoke on behalf of some of the downtown property owners. He addressed a portion of the regulations that speak to “discernible hazards.” He addressed the concerns of a property owner whose insurance premium will increase due to a risk. “Your premiums go up when there’s an identifiable risk. A risk exists when there is a discernible hazard.”
Greenville Assistant Fire Chief Shannon Fritz shared that if flammable rags and other combustible materials were stored in the garage it would be regulated by the Ohio Fire Code. He noted that he could not specifically answer some of the questions until he knows what the occupancy of the building is, but there could be other regulations that Lovett would need to follow.
Other issues brought to light regarding the building were electric, sewer and water. Lovett admitted his building does not have water. “I’m not going to spend thousands of dollars to put a water line until this is finished. Why would anybody expect me to,” he said. He did point out his building does have sewer and electricity. Commission member Douglas Flanery stated he could not approve the variance until a water line was installed.
Katie Gabbard, owner of the Ivy League, accused his clientele of being disrespectful and blocking entrances to other businesses. Lovett disagreed and pointed out he hasn’t opened his business yet, but has tried to fit into the downtown community by offering free pizza. He has also partnered with other downtown businesses. Gabbard said, “Why disrupt the good things that we have going.” Lovett countered his clientele has gone out of their way to pick up trash and cigarette butts in front of his and other businesses.
“Everybody thinks we’re going to go in there and put 500 gallons of gasoline in there. If somebody buys a windshield, it takes three screws to change a windshield. If I sell him a windshield, you’ve got to drive outside of town so I can put it on. I just want to do minor maintenance things. We’re not tearing things apart.” He explained he is not going to store gasoline and has no need for solvents for what he wants to do. He said he asked members of the commission to come and see what he does and nobody showed. “I would rather you be educated on what we do. So I’ve tried. I’ve been transparent with everything we’ve done.”
Mayor Steve Willman, chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission, said, “I’m not sure this is something we want either. It doesn’t fit with a lot of things we do in the city.”
Lovett said after the meeting that he will not open the retail portion of the business.
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