Tallmadge -- To the chagrin of some neighbors of Sammie's Bar & Grill on South Avenue, the eatery's parking lot will be enlarged.
At a March 6 meeting, the city's Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4 to 0 to approve a change to the original site plan for the property on which the restaurant sits, so a gravel area at the rear of the existing parking lot can be used for overflow parking. Commission member Dianne Sumego was absent.
The newly approved section of the parking lot won't have a specified number of marked parking spaces and will be located 26 feet from the residential property next door. A solid fence will be put up as an extra layer of buffering between the parking lot extension and the neighboring property.
"We don't want to discourage the owner from having as many patrons as possible, but I think there's got to be a good compromise here," Commission Chair Gerald Taylor said about the revised plans that were submitted March 6.
Robert Antrobius, the owner of the commercial property at 498 South Ave., originally requested last month that the Commission approve his plan of using the rear section of the parking lot to accommodate 14 additional parking spaces for a total of about 70 for customers and employees. He said Sammie's has received complaints from customers about insufficient parking. He proposed extending the parking lot to 8 feet from the property line and erecting a shadow box fence on the west side of the property.
Some neighbors of the restaurant spoke out against the proposal because they were concerned a parking lot too close to their homes will increase noise and light from motors and headlights from the vehicles that already park in the lot.
At the Commission's request for Antrobius and DeLapa to come up with plans that would appease both the restaurant and the neighbors, the pair came before the Commission again March 6. Their revised plans included shrinking the parking lot expansion so that it would be located 22 feet from the property line. The number of vehicles that could park in the expanded area that doesn't have designated spaces could vary, depending on how they park, Commission members said. The Commission approved the revised plans that night.
Four neighbors from three households opposed the plans for the project before the Commission's vote. Some suggested to the Commission the restaurant make better use of the existing parking lot by having vehicles park closer to the building and converting the outdoor patio into extra parking spaces so that there would be no need for an expansion.
Martha Simich, who has lived on Nutwood Drive for 52 years, said she wanted to "maintain" the neighborhood and feared a larger parking lot will decrease the values of the residential properties in it.
"If you let [Antrobius and DeLapa] have this, I'll be looking at a parking lot from my living room," she said. The front yard of her home is 100 yards from the extension.
Antrobious, who was not at the March 6 meeting, has said he has the right to use his commercial property in the manner that best supports the restaurant.
The Commission included conditions in its approval of the extension, including if the restaurant wants to add lighting, a separate request must come before the Commission.
The Commission also mandated that a large trash bin on the restaurant property to be enclosed by a fence, which is a requirement of the city's zoning code.
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