Commission Meeting Information








Agenda for the September 19, 2017 Commission Meeting

I. Call to order

II. Recusals, if any

III. Swearing in of members of the public giving testimony

IV. Visitor’s forum

V. Approval of outstanding minutes, if any

VI. Review of Permit Applications
A. DeCosky: 304 Wigging Street, new deck
B. Kenyon College: new building, English Cottage #1, near Bailey House

VII. Executive Session. if necessary

VIII. Adjournment


Zoning Minutes
March 15th, 2016

Members in attendance: Kachen Kimmell, chair; Harold Ballard, Jim Bartee ,Sam Filkins, Betsy Heer, Franklin Miller, Tom Stamp, Richard Tuck

Members absent: None

Guests: Clint Bailey, village solicitor; Suzanne Hopkins, village administrator

Applicants: Steven Arnett, director of facility operations, Kenyon College; Mark Kohlman, chief business officer, Kenyon College; Margaret Lewis, 302 Duff Street; Angus MacDonnell and Terri MacDonnell, 302 East Woodside Drive; Seth Millam, construction project manager, Kenyon College; Patrick Wease, 404 East Brooklyn Street

Visitors: Mary Baer, Richard Baer, Carolyn Batt, Russell Batt, Sonya Broeren, James Dunham, Elizabeth Forman, Henri Gendreau (Kenyon Collegian), Douglas Givens, Susan Givens, Elizabeth Keeney; Ree Metcalf, Sarah Murnen, Jami Peelle, Alice Straus, Judith Wainscott

The meeting was called to order by Ms. Kimmell at 7:30 p.m.

There were no recusals. Mr. Arnett, Mr. Kohlman, Ms. Lewis, the MacDonells, Mr. Millam, Mr. Wease, and several of the visitors were sworn in to give testimony.

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved upon motion by Mr. Bartee, seconded by Mr. Tuck.

The meeting proceeded directly to the consideration of applications. Ms. Lewis presented an application for a demolition permit for the rear portion of her family’s residence at 302 Duff Street. The section to be demolished, a kitchen addition to the house, will make way for an updated addition and other improvements to the residence. The application was unanimously approved upon motion by Ms. Heer, seconded by Mr. Stamp.

Mr. Wease presented an application for a sunroom addition, replacing an existing deck, at his property at 404 East Brooklyn Street. An issue arose with regard to the backyard space called for in the zoning code, with which Mr. Wease’s proposal was not in compliance. The required variance will be considered by the Gambier Village Council, and owners of contiguous properties will be notified of the variance application and heard at a hearing before the next Council meeting. Upon motion by Mr. Tuck, seconded by Mr. Filkins, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend approval of the variance, although Mr. Ballard opposed the motion. Pending approval by the Village Council, the commission voted to approve the project upon motion by Mr. Tuck, seconded by Mr. Filkins.

Mr. and Ms. MacDonell presented several applications for their home at 302 East Woodside Drive.

*The first, for installation of a chain-link fence, required a conditional-use permit and notification of contiguous neighbors. A hearing on the permit will be held immediately before the commission’s next meeting, in April.

*The second, for converting an attached garage to a bedroom, was unanimously approved upon motion by Mr. Tuck, seconded by Mr. Bartee.

*The third, for construction of a freestanding garage on the property, was judged to be within required square-footage and setback regulations. Ms. Heer inquired as to the required space between houses and garages but was informed that it was not regulated. The construction permit was unanimously approved upon motion by Mr. Filkins, seconded by Mr. Tuck.

The next application to be considered, as presented by Mr. Arnett, was Kenyon College’s for installing ADA signage for two temporary parking spaces (one for a car, one for a van) adjacent to the existing bleachers and restroom facilities near the College’s McCloskey Field (baseball). The application was unanimously approved upon motion by Ms. Heer, seconded by Mr. Filkins.

Mr. Arnett also presented an application for a crushed limestone and gravel access road and accompanying path from the ADA parking spaces to the aforementioned restroom facilities. The application was unanimously approved upon motion by Mr. Tuck, seconded by Mr. Filkins.

The application for a demolition permit for the Kenyon-owned property at 100 East Brooklyn Street – known variously as Larry’s Pizza, Pirates Cove, and the Gambier Grill — was spoken to by Mr. Kohlman and Mr. Millam. Ms. Kimmell explained, for the benefit of the visitors, the demolition rights of property owners and the possibility of invoking a delay, for the purpose of considering alternatives (such as moving the structure in question), at the conclusion of which demolition would nevertheless proceed. In response to a question from the audience, Mr. Millam said that the building’s bar, originally a fixture in the former Dorothy’s Lunch on East Wiggin Street, had been salvaged once again for future use elsewhere. Ms. Heer asked if the building would be torn down even if the houses proposed for the site were not approved, and Mr. Kohlman responded in the affirmative. In response to another question from the audience, Mr. Kohlman stated that no students had resided in the building for the past two years. The permit was granted, upon motion by Mr. Filkins, seconded by Mr. Tuck.

The application for a demolition permit for the Kenyon-owned property at 111 Chase Avenue – known as the Old Bank Building or the Black Box Theater – was also presented by Mr. Kohlman and Mr. Millam. Ms. Kimmell reiterated the limits on the commission’s potential responses to an application for a demolition permit, i.e., outright approval or a delay followed by mandated approval. Mr. Miller asked if neighbors were permitted to weigh in on demolition decisions, as in the case of conditional-use permits and variances, and Ms. Kimmell and Mr. Bailey agreed that they were not. Ms. Forman and others asked if a property owner’s “neglect” of a building might be a factor, and once again the answer was no. Mr. Tuck asked if he could opt to tear down his own house, after being granted a demolition permit, and the answer was yes. He went on to note that audience reactions seemed to indicate that feelings about the building in question were tied to feelings about the College-produced master plan in general. Ms. Forman, rejecting Mr. Stamp’s account of the building’s history (constructed as a bank building in 1905, used for that purpose until purchased by Kenyon in 1998, since used as a black-box theater and offices), asked if consideration of the application could be delayed for a month to collect more information, but Mr. Bailey stated that granting such a delay was not within the commission’s purview. Mr. Miller moved for the 120-day delay allowed by the zoning code, with a second from Ms. Heer, but the motion failed, based on a tie vote. Mr. Filkins then moved approval of the demolition permit, with a second from Mr. Ballard, and the motion was approved, although Ms. Heer and Mr. Miller voted no.

The commission then turned its attention to the variances requested by the College, which were presented by Mr. Kohlman and Mr. Millam. The purpose was to garner the commission’s sentiments on each before their consideration by the Village Council. Mr. Givens opined that the commission had no business looking at variance requests, but Mr. Bailey noted that it had traditionally done so because the commission members were typically more familiar than Village Council members with the zoning code. Mr. Baer stated that variance requests had been heard by the Board of Zoning Appeals before its abolition (ca. 2003).

*The first variance to be sought was for relief from required-yard and height regulations for the three proposed student residences on the 100 East Brooklyn Street site. Before these could be considered, Ms. Heer noted that construction of three residential buildings on a lot in the Mixed-Use District was not permitted. Mr. Kohlman stated that they should be allowed as “institutional-support facilities,” in accordance with the code. Mr. Givens and Ms. Heer objected that student residences could not be construed as “institutional-support facilities.” Mr. Kohlman noted that the argument had prevailed earlier with the approval of the new student residence on the Wilson Apartments site on Scott Lane, but visitors said they viewed that as a different situation, with apartments being replaced by a student residence with a similar population. Ms. Metcalf, Ms. Straus, and other visitors raised objections to the possibility of greater numbers of students living in the area. Mr. Kohlman stated that new student-residence facilities in downtown Gambier would only increase the number of students living there from thirty-four (34) to fifty-two (52). Ms. Straus asked if approval would create a precedent, and Mr. Stamp responded that future proposals would be considered by the commission on a case-by-case basis. Ms. Straus argued that there needed to be language in the code to clarify what could and could not be considered a precedent, and Mr. Ballard agreed. Mr. Bailey noted, however, that a variance would have no real value as a precedent in legal terms.

On the topic of the variance for a required yard next to the driveway and loading dock on the site, it was agreed that no variance would be needed, as a result of a recent amendment to the code eliminating setback requirements for driveways.

In discussion about the requested height variance, Ms. Straus asked where the measurements were taken, and Mr. Millam responded that it would be from the lowest point above ground to the top of the gable or roof of the building.

Ms. Heer introduced a motion to recommend approval of the height-variance request to Village Council, and it was seconded by Mr. Filkins. The motion passed, with a no vote from Ms. Heer.

*The next variance requests were in regard to height, lot width, massing, and side-yard regulations for the proposed building on the 111 Chase Avenue site. Mr. Kohlman stated that the width of the lot was thirty-five (35) feet, not the fifty (50) feet required by the code, and asked that the variance be recommended because of the “practical difficulties” inherent in the lot size. Ms. Heer noted that it would be a shame to demolish the existing building on the site and leave it empty, since the lot is as big as it will ever be. Ms. Heer moved recommendation to Village Council for approval of the lot-width variance, with a second from Mr. Tuck, and the motion passed.

For further consideration of recommending the variance on the regulations, Mr. Kohlman reviewed elements of the master plan for the area, noting that the Village Market would move from its current location in Farr Hall to the new building proposed for 111 Chase Avenue. The building’s front would be defined as the Chase Avenue side, with the sidewalk along the north (Brooklyn Street) side of the structure remaining but the green space on that side reduced by half. Ms. Straus opined that the proposed height of the building, as well as its size and the diminution of green space, would substantially change the character of the downtown area. Mr. Dunham asked if the Gambier post office, which owns the contiguous property to the south on Chase Avenue, would have a say, and Mr. Kohlman responded that it would receive notice of the variance application, to which it could reply. Ms. Heer introduced a motion that the side-yard variance not be recommended, but it failed for lack of a second. Mr. Filkins then moved for recommendation of the variance to Village Council, with a second from Mr. Tuck. The vote was Mr. Filkins, Mr. Stamp, and Mr. Tuck, yes; Ms. Heer and Mr. Miller, no; and Mr. Ballard, Mr. Bartee, and Ms. Kimmell abstaining.

On the topic of the height variance, Ms. Heer moved to recommend Village Council’s approval of the variance, with a second from Mr. Stamp. The vote was Mr. Filkins, Mr. Stamp, and Mr. Tuck, yes; Ms. Heer and Mr. Miller, no; and Mr. Ballard, Mr. Bartee, and Ms. Kimmell abstaining.

that the proposed building exceeds 6,000 square feet, with 3,601 on the first floor, 3,098 on the second, and a total of 8,861 above ground. Mr. Ballard asked if this was about the same as the square footage of the College’s Cox Health and Counseling Center on Scott Lane, and Mr. Kohlman responded that the proposed structure is somewhat smaller. Ms. Heer introduced a motion to withhold the commission’s positive recommendation on the variance to Village Council, and Mr. Miller seconded. The vote was Ms. Heer and Mr. Miller, yes; Mr. Stamp, no; and Mr. Ballard, Mr. BarteIn the discussion of the proposed variance on massing regulations, Mr. Kohlman noted e, Mr. Filkins, Ms. Kimmell, and Mr. Tuck abstaining.

Ms. Heer suggested that, for the future, consideration be given to specifying, in the zoning code, the required space between a house and a detached garage on the same property.

Ms. Kimmell thanked the visitors for their opinions while noting that change will, of necessity, happen in the village. Mr. Givens stated that Kenyon needs to get its master plan in line with Gambier’s zoning ordinance instead of requesting variances from it.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:45 p.m.