The Grandview Heights Planning Commission May 21 tabled for a second time the Grandview Heights Public Library's request for approval to demolish the building at 1239 W. First Ave. to make way for an auxiliary parking lot for library staff and patrons.

The Grandview Heights Planning Commission May 21 tabled for a second time the Grandview Heights Public Library's request for approval to demolish the building at 1239 W. First Ave. to make way for an auxiliary parking lot for library staff and patrons.

The building formerly housed SVR Data Services, Inc. The library now owns the property.

The application for the demolition permit was made on behalf of the library by Jester Jones Schifer Architects.

The library is also seeking approval of a major site plan and a variance to the setback requirements for parking lots.

At the April planning commission meeting, the library sought a conditional use to use the site as a parking lot.

Because there are no specific conditional uses for parking lots under the property's neighborhood commercial (C-2) zoning, the commission tabled the matter last month because of concerns of some members that they do not have the authority to approve the parking lot concept in such an unorthodox way.

Director of administration/economic development Patrik Bowman told the commission he would consult with city attorney Joelle Khouzam to develop a more definitive analysis of the issue.

Bowman forwarded a report to the commission prior to the May 21 meeting. He was out of town and unable to attend the meeting. Khouzam also was not able to attend the meeting.

In his report, Bowman noted that parking lots are not listed as permitted or conditional uses in any zoning district in the city's planning and zoning code. Parking lots are referenced in the accessory use section of the code.

The case "must focus on the proposed lot as an accessory use of the principal library building," Bowman states.

The code states that an accessory use is one that is located on the same lot with the principal building or use.

Since the parking lot as proposed would not be located on the same lot as the library, it cannot be considered to be an accessory use, Bowman's report states.

Instead, he said, the library should apply for a variance to permit the proposed accessory parking lot use to be on a separate lot.

The commission would have to decide whether to recognize as a hardship the library's position that it needs additional parking for peak time activities and that there are no viable parking lot expansion opportunities on the existing library site, Bowman's report states.

Or the commission could decide not to recognize the hardship and deny the variance request.

The library presented a revised request at the May 21 meeting that included the request for the variance.

Despite Bowman's report, a majority of the commission said they would uncomfortable considering the request without a clearer legal opinion.

Although he is not an attorney, commission member Jamie Greene said he is not sure whether what the library is seeking falls under the category of a variance.

"A variance is some minor adjustment to a standard," he said.

Greene said he has "a great reservation" whether, legally, this is an issue in which a variance can be granted.

The commission tentatively agreed to schedule a meeting early next month to consider further legal advice from Khouzam and to try to make a decision on the library's request.

While that issue remains unresolved, a resident who lives just east of the property told the commission the library has responded favorably to the concerns he raised at last month's meeting about potential problems such as headlights shining onto his home and the disruption that could be caused by people coming and going from the parking lot, especially during special library events.

Architect Michael Jones said he and library officials met with the homeowner and reviewed some of his landscaping proposals.

The revised site plan includes increased landscaping and buffers between the parking lot and the adjacent home, Jones said. The plan now calls for such elements as bush shrubs and canopy trees to help provide screening for the homeowner.

To address concerns about dust that would be caused by the demolition and construction of the lot, the site will be water sprayed to reduce the impact, he said.

Northrup said the landscaping plans would probably solve most of his concerns.

The existing library has 64 parking spaces, including two handicapped spaces, Jones said.

The new parking lot would add 21 spaces, he said.

Library staff are already using about 14 spaces that already exist at the SVR Data Services site, which has already had a positive impact on the amount of public parking in the library lot, Jones said.

"So there's definitely a need for this," he said.