Owners of an East Main Street welding business made a compelling argument before the City Planning & Development Committee Tuesday night and, as a result, are one step away from achieving their goal to convert a former auto repair shop into a storage facility.
“Absolutely,” said PDC Chairperson Duane Preston, when asked if Daniel and Joyce Mattice, owners of Tri-County Welding at 649 E. Main St., had a strong case for a proposal to transform five of the six bays of the former Mazur’s Auto Repair into retail storage units.
“Since he has the right to put a junkyard in there, this is definitely the softer of all choices,” Preston said. “Now it will be an enclosed building, cleaned up, with no dust, no junk and little traffic.”
The Mattices purchased the Mazur building at 643-645 E. Main St. through foreclosure last year and have put around $40,000 into upgrading it, while renting out the front of the building – office space -- to Anything Your Heart Desires floral shop.
They said they unsuccessfully tried to get someone to rent the auto repair shop before coming up with the idea of storage units. City zoning laws, however, do not permit storage units in an Industrial-1 zone, meaning that the Mattices had to seek an area variance.
Their request was recommended for disapproval by the Genesee County Planning Board last week, but their presentation last night – buoyed by statements from attorney Michael Del Plato – convinced the PDC that their plan could work.
“This is an opportunity to protect your property, and they should be able to take advantage of it,” Del Plato said, noting that there are many businesses in that area. “We can’t legislate through City Council every potential use; the local boards have to help us out here.”
Del Plato called the variance request “minimal” in scope with “much less density” than the building’s previous use, and noted that the business is in an “Industrial zone surrounded by commercial uses.”
Joyce Mattice said she had signed statements from the surrounding business owners in support of their venture, ensuring the PDC that there would be no hazardous materials or tires on site.
The PDC voted unanimously to approve the variance. The request now goes in front of the City Zoning Board of Appeals on Sept. 28, needing four out of five “yes” votes for final approval.
Preston said the Mattices’ request comes at a “transitional period” (in relation to zoning) in that the updated Comprehensive Plan is nearly finalized and will be addressed by City Council.
“In this case, we took into account the particular area and the makeup of the neighborhood,” he said.
In other action, the committee:
-- Approved a site plan for a proposed 2,700-square-foot addition at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse campus on East Main Street, which would be used as a methadone clinic to treat people with opioid addictions.
This action comes on the heels of a similar recommendation by the Genesee County Planning Board.
GCASA Executive Director John Bennett and project architect Raymond Murphy presented the plan last night, reiterating the immediate need for such a facility in light of what Bennett terms a “national epidemic.”
The new clinic, with an April 2018 opening target date, will be funded by an $820,000 grant from the state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, Bennett said.
Plans are for it to be open in the morning from Monday through Saturday for people to take their prescription and head off to their daily tasks.
The addition will result in an increase of 38 parking spaces on the campus, raising the total parking capacity to 72 spaces.
-- Recommended approval of a 20,075-square-foot, one-story addition to an industrial use building at O-At-Ka Milk Products on Cedar Street.
The $2.5 million addition would be placed adjacent to the existing warehouse space to the west and south on the property. Work is expected to start in less than a month.