The Jan. 24 Planning Commission meeting was attended by a team of project engineers and development owners involved in the effort to construct a Hampton Inn hotel and conference center on the east side of town. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz

Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Residential rezoning, a proposed hotel, self-storage business expansion and one commercial building with two occupants were considered by the Gardner Planning Commission at their Jan. 24 meeting.

Two businesses in one location
The commission considered a proposed site plan for property located at 558 W. Main.
An existing Gardner business, Sign Here, Inc., will use a portion of the building and a second business, L&M Rental, wants to move to Gardner and occupy the additional space. The property is owned by Fishing Buddies, LLC.
Staff recommended approval, pending conditions being met by the property owner. Chad Bahr, planner, described the conditions:
• to meet requirements of the Land Development Code, a specified number and various types of trees and shrubs should be planted around the property
• fencing must be installed in certain places.
• improvements to the entrance drive are needed.
• the parking lot, which is now gravel, would need to be paved with concrete.
In addition, the public works department requires a “trip study” be done to help determine traffic impact.
Lynn Holcomb, Fishing Buddies LLC, was present at the meeting.
Holcomb said that there just wasn’t enough money in the budget to pave the parking lot. He also was concerned with the trip study. He was unclear about what exactly that is or how much it would cost.
Holcomb requested the commission waive those two requirements.
Heath Freeman, commission member, asked staff about cost of a trip study, but no one could give a figure. It was mentioned that there are several levels of study, and this was the lowest level.
Tory Roberts, commission member, asked if commission had the option to remove the trip study condition.
Michelle Leininger, principal planner, told commission that it was a city access management code governed by public works, and the commission did not have authority to waive it.
Commission dropped the requirement of paving the parking lot and voted to approve the site plan, pending the other listed conditions being met.

Connie and Vernon Fraley, White House LLC, are the property owners of 133 N. White Drive. They requested the property be rezoned from R-2 (Two Family Residential) to R-3 (Garden Apartment District).
Kelly Drake Woodward, chief planner, gave the staff presentation.
The residential building on the property is divided into three units (tri-plex). According to Drake, in 1962, a special permit was granted by the city to allow the three family structure within the zone designated for duplexes.
In 1978 the city rezoned, and the area again was designated as R-2, making the tri-plex a non-conforming legal use. Since then, only two of the three units have been available for rental.
Staff recommended approval of the zoning change from R-2 to R-3.
During public comments, the owner of a neighboring property came forward to speak.
She was opposed to the rezoning because of concerns that at some point in the future, due to rezoning, a three story apartment complex could be built. She said that she and her husband currently rent both sides of the duplex they own, but planned to move into one of the duplexes themselves when they got older. She said they bought the property because it was in a nice residential area zoned for two family dwellings. She said she would not want to live next door to an apartment building.
Heath Freeman, council member, asked staff if it was possible to allow the owners of the existing tri-plex to rent all three apartments, while including stipulations that would restrict new construction.
Ryan Denk, city attorney, said he thought that could be accomplished but advised that to be compliant with state laws, the city would have to be careful with the wording of any stipulations. Denk recommended tabling the request to allow time for options to be explored.
With none opposed, commission voted to table the item to the Feb. 28 meeting.

Expansion of Sante Fe Storage
The owners of Sante Fe Self Storage at 1060 E. Sante Fe wish to expand their storage facility by building another storage unit on the neighboring lot at 1070 E. Sante Fe.
Both properties are owned by Allenbrand-Drews and Associates, Inc.
The owners requested approval of preliminary and final plat, which would combine the two lots into one. Owners would return at a future date to request approval of site plans following plat approval.
In separate votes, both preliminary and final plat were approved by commission.