Tallmadge -- A commercial property owner's request to expand the parking lot of a busy restaurant met opposition from some neighbors during a Tallmadge Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Feb. 6.
Robert Antrobius took his plans to add onto the rear portion of the existing parking lot on his property at 498 South Ave., where Sammie's Bar & Grill opened last October, before the Commission.
Antrobius proposed adding 14 parking spaces to the lot that would then have about 70 spaces for customers and employees. He also said he'd put up a shadow box fence on the west side of the property, 8 feet from his neighbor's property line and next to an existing row of pine trees. He would extend another existing fence of the same style on the north side of the property.
"The reason why we're asking for this is that Sammie's restaurant now is very successful, and it's been [more successful than] the two previous ones," he said. "One of the largest complaints that they have at the restaurant is the lack of parking so we're trying to maximize our parking we have on our commercial lot."
Customers of the restaurant also park at a business across the street, he said.
Several other businesses have operated from the 2-acre property at different times since Antrobius bought it in 1988. In addition to Sammie's restaurant, the property now has four offices.
Five longtime residents, representing three homes on Nutwood Drive, spoke out against the proposal, saying a parking lot so close to their yards would increase the noise from running motors, slamming doors and keyless entry systems, as well as lights from headlights that they already consider a nuisance.
"We built our home [in 1963]. We've paid taxes all these years. We want a nice neighborhood," said Martha Simich, whose front yard is 100 yards from the site of the proposed parking lot extension. "If you approve this, it's just going to destroy everything we've built all of our lives."
Jeff Postma, who lives on Vinewood Avenue about two miles from the restaurant, said he was in favor of the parking lot expansion because it supports business in the community.
The Commission tabled Antrobius' request until the next meeting and asked him to come up with a plan that satisfies both the restaurant and the neighbors. The Commission favored putting up a solid fence and requiring restaurant employees to park at the rear of the lot instead of customers to reduce the noise.
The Commission is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m., March 6, at City Hall.
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