Parking Changes Approved For Veterinary Complex
Following discussion at a July 18 public hearing, Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) members approved some changes to vehicle parking regulations as they specifically apply to a veterinary medicine complex now under construction at 94 South Main Street.
P&Z members approved the changes in a 4-to-1 vote, with Chairman Don Mitchell, Jim Swift, Corinne Cox, and Barbara Manville voting in the affirmative, and Roy Meadows dissenting.
In the zoning application, Prithvi Real Estate Management sought a zoning regulation change for the Special Design District-5 sub-zone (SDD-5) in the South Main Village Design District (SMVDD) overlay zone, which would reduce the minimum depth for a parking space in the veterinary center parking lot from 20 feet to 18 feet. Passenger vehicles typically range from about 14 to 17 feet in length.
Engineer Russell Cyr of Solli Engineering of Monroe, representing Prithvi, told P&Z members that Prithvi received a site plan approval for the project from the P&Z in 2018 and then submitted that approval to state Department of Transportation (DOT) for technical review because South Main Street is State Route 25.
That DOT review found that in order to provide sufficient sight line distances for motorists exiting the complex onto South Main Street, a retaining wall is required near the street. To physically fit the retaining wall and required guardrailing onto the property without losing any of the 45 approved parking spaces there, six of the parking spaces near that wall would need to be shortened from 20 feet to 18 feet in depth. All parking spaces would have a 9-foot width.
Mr Meadows told P&Z members that he has a vehicle that is 18½ feet long, which would not fit into a marked parking space with an 18-foot depth.
Mr Swift suggested that 18-foot-deep spaces be marked for use by compact vehicles only. Mr Swift and P&Z member David Rosen said that an 18-foot-deep space is adequate to park most vehicles.
Mr Mitchell said it is frustrating that DOT makes changes to site development plans that have received P&Z approval.
P&Z members then voted 4-to-1 to approve the parking rule change.
The Pleasant Paws Pet Center is under construction on a 2.06-acre site. The planned two-story veterinary complex would enclose roughly 17,000 square feet of floor space. The project gained its initial P&Z approval in June 2018.
The Pleasant Paws Pet Center project employed the South Main Village Design District (SMVDD) zoning process as a regulatory mechanism to gain approval. That process allows applicants to propose customized zoning regulations that are tailored to an individual property’s development or redevelopment. If the P&Z approves such a set of unique zoning rules, those rules then replace the underlying zoning regulations.
A set of zoning regulations, which are known as Special Design District-5 (SDD-5), apply only to the veterinary project. It is those rules which the P&Z modified on July 18.
The P&Z created the SMVDD zoning regulations in 2007 to foster economic development that is in harmony with New England architecture along the 4-mile-long South Main Corridor. Pleasant Paws is one of six projects that has that has gained SMVDD zoning approval.