Sole Lucky's variance receives CAC's assent


With little fanfare and even less discussion, Clintonville Area Commission members voted unanimously last week to approve the lone variance needed for Lucky's Farmers Market to take over a building that once was a Kroger store.

The market should open by August, attorney Jackson B. Reynolds III of Smith and Hale LLC said shortly before the vote was taken last Thursday, Feb. 7.

The vote was 8-0, with District 3 representative James R. Blazer II absent.

The first expansion into a chain of groceries for what is now a single-location operation in Boulder, Colo., will be at 2784 N. High St. The move brings the building full circle; it was built as a Kroger in 1966 but more recently served as a Goodwill thrift store.

Initially, officials at Lucky's, which will sell local and organic products as well as national brands and household items, asked for three variances from city regulations, including fewer trees than are required and less landscaping in the parking lot.

Those requests were withdrawn, CAC zoning and variance Chairwoman Dana K.G. Bagwell said during last week's session.

A survey of the site done by Faris Planning and Design LLC after the variance requests were filed revealed there was plenty of room to meet and even far exceed greenspace requirements, Reynolds said.

Whereas 1,800 square feet of landscaping is mandated by city code, the parking lot instead will have 3,800 square feet, said Todd Faris, president of the design firm. Parking aisles will be much wider than code requires, Faris added.

He also said the front of the property will look similar to the landscaping design incorporated when the existing Kroger store at North High Street and West North Broadway was renovated.

"It's going to be quite a significant improvement to the site," Faris said.

"They showed us wonderful pictures of the landscaping," Bagwell said of a Jan. 29 presentation at a meeting of her committee.

The only variance still needed involves screening for Dumpsters in the rear of the property; there's simply not enough room for delivery trucks to maneuver if the screening requirement is met, Reynolds said. He said all Dumpsters will be moved to the back of the building.

The variance request goes to the Board of Zoning Adjustment on Feb. 26, the attorney said in response to a question from former zoning and variance committee Chairwoman Sandy Simbro.

Simbro applauded the project, calling it a "shining example of private business, public entities and community organizations" working cooperatively.

The original Lucky's Farmers Market opened in Boulder in 2003, the brainchild of former child actor Bo Sharon. Prior to taking up cooking school, Sharon appeared in more than 90 television commercials, nine movies and 50 TV shows, including Happy Days, Murphy Brown and Beverly Hills 90210.

"We seek out local, organic, sustainable and traditionally crafted foods made with purpose and pride," the store's website states. "We are passionate about gaining knowledge and act conscientiously, recognizing that our decisions impact each other, the community and the earth."

The expansion into a chain operation, Sharon has said, targets cities that, like Boulder, have universities. In addition to Columbus with Ohio State University, the other site targeted for a store this year is Bozeman, Mont., home of Montana State University.

Sharon, the president of the company, has teamed with former executives of Wild Oats and Sunflower Farmers Market to eventually launch the Lucky's brand in not only Ohio and Montana but also Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.