The O’Reilly Auto Parts at 525 East Main has a lot of space between the building and the railroad tracks to the south – and they want to add about a 30 percent expansion on to the back of the building. The site plan application was approved with conditions by the planning commission, and now moves on to city council. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz

Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Staff reviewed a site plan for an addition to O’Reilly Auto Parts, 525 East Main, at the March 28 Gardner Planning Commission.
Staff recommended approval pending three conditions being met and offered an alternative motion to allow deviations.
Kelly Drake-Woodward, chief planner, gave the staff presentation. The plan is to add on to the back end of the existing building and includes reconfiguration of the rear parking lot, trash enclosure and landscaping.
The addition will make the entire building length 105 feet. The Land Development Code (LDC) says that no single wall plane can be longer than 100 feet without having off-sets of at least one foot to add depth and proportion.
In past staff-client communication, staff had requested the applicant recess the entire addition by at least one foot, to comply with this code.
The applicant responded with a request for deviation, stating their goal is to construct a cohesive addition that blends with the existing building. They want “an addition that doesn’t look like an addition” and thought recessing would make it more obvious it was an addition.
Drake-Woodward noted that to meet code, the west facade should be redesigned to include ornamental architectural details every 25 feet.
There is no pavement, sidewalk or access on the west side, and it is presently bordered by a residential home and trees that largely conceal that side of the building ; however that house may not always be there.
“Who knows what kind of development will happen there in the future, but that house is a non-conforming structure in that zoning district, so it’s reasonable to expect development at some point in time,” said Drake-Woodward.
Code also requires 8 foot sidewalks for any facade abutting a parking area. Most of the site does have 8 foot sidewalks, but there is a portion adjacent to an existing landscape island where the sidewalk is 4-5 feet wide.
The applicants asked for deviation of all three items. Commission discussion followed.
“I think both of their requests for us to allow for those variations are not only appropriate but probably actually the best result to create one non-disjointed building,’ said Heath Freeman, commission member.
Freeman later made a motion to approve and allow the deviations. With none opposed, commission approved the site plan application including specific requested deviations from code standards.