The Newbury Township Board of Zoning Appeals public hearing was called to order by Ray Fidel, Chairman at 9:20 p.m. on September 15, 2009 with Mary Lee Brezina, Tezeon Wong, Glen Quigley and Bill McCullam (sitting for Dean Eppley) present. Ms. Endres presented photos and showed projections of the site for board and audience review.
Mr. Quigley recused himself citing a conflict of interest. Ken Blair took his place.
All who wished to speak at this hearing were duly sworn and asked when testifying to state their name and confirm being sworn in. Mr. Fidel read the applicant's request.
Jeff Fanger, agent, is requesting a conditional use permit to expand the Geauga County Democratic Headquarters from a single office unit in the Marathon Plaza at 12428 Kinsman Rd. to a double unit to include a party center for fundraising, political assembly/activism, organizing and recruiting in the B-1 Commercial/Business District. Art. VI, Sec. 6.04C classifies lodges and fraternal organizations as Conditional Uses requiring BZA approval per Art. X, Sec. 10.00.
Mr. Fanger explained that the group wanted to expand their present space to include offices and a meeting room that would better serve their existing clientele. This expansion would create no significant impact as the same group continues to gather for “free speech” assembly. The group has been at this location for the past four years, fits in well with plaza neighbors and utilizes the plaza businesses especially Newbury Printing. The meeting room would be used for smaller events, not huge fund-raisers.
Mr. Fidel reminded them to comply with the Fire Dept. regulations for the 75 people occupancy limit. The existing 63 parking spaces seem adequate as most of the group’s meetings are in the evening when the local business are closed.
Discussion continued regarding the Obama campaign event; Mr. Quigley clarified overflow parking (if needed) was available at Kaufman’s and White’s Business Park, safety-crossing issues, Health Dept approval for brought-in food donations (not classified as a restaurant) and the building fire suppression system.
Mr. Wong asked if there were any complaints from the landlord - none except for the campaign overflow event. Mr. Fanger agreed they would not exceed the 75-80 person maximum capacity; there were few day-time workers, only volunteers and if a tent was ever used it would be erected on the grassy area south of the parking lot.
Ms. Endres questioned the capacity limit shown on the architect’s plan; Mr. McCullam clarified that number satisfied an architectural ruling - not based on occupancy reality.
Ms. Brezina asked Mr. Fanger to define “activism”. He assured her there are no “crazies” in their group who gathered for political activism.
Mr. Wong asked about safety egress: there are 3 driveways serving the plaza for prompt exit in an emergency.
Mr. Fidel asked the board for additional comments or questions. There being no more questions, Mr. Fidel called for a motion to approve the conditional use request.
Bill McCullam moved to grant the conditional use permit as presented by the Democratic Party; Ken Blair seconded the motion.
Bill McCullam yes
Tezeon Wong yes
Ken Blair yes
Mary Lou Brezina yes
Ray Fidel yes
Mr. Fidel informed the applicants their conditional use permit was granted.
Mr. Fidel read to the Appellant and audience, “Based on the decision of the Board, you may proceed with obtaining your permit, once all requirements regarding this application are satisfied. You are advised if someone objects to this decision they may challenge it in court. If you choose to start operating at once, as soon as you begin your business you are bound by the conditions set forth by this Board, and all other Newbury Township zoning requirements.
Mr. Fidel informed the Appellant and the audience that the 30-day period commences with the Appellant’s signing receipt of the signed minutes. They will be mailed registered return receipt to the Appellant. All persons receiving notice of the hearing will receive copies of the minutes.
Mr. Fidel adjourned the BZA hearing at 9:50 p.m. Board members wished the applicants good luck.
Marge Hrabak, Secretary
Tue, September 15, 2009
by Ann Wishart