GREENVILLE — Venturing into unknown waters can be trying for even the most stouthearted.
But, as they say, fortune favors the bold.
The Greenville Planning Commission was nothing if not bold Tuesday when commissioners tested the waters of the Mixed Use District (MUD) zoning ordinance. During the meeting, commissioners discussed a new site plan for a construction project of the EZ Mart Mobil gas station in Greenville.
Specifically, commissioners discussed how the site plan adheres to the MUD ordinance. Tim Johnson, Wade Trim Inc. Senior project manager and city consultant, provided a report of the site plan for commissioners to consider.
“The report is fairly detailed because this is our first go around with the Mixed Use District,” he said. “The mixed use district is heavily architecturally and aesthetically oriented. We knew one size wasn’t going to fit everything. We deliberately built in for the planning commission to be able to modify some of the standards so you can decide … if the standard really fits this site or to modify it to make it work.”
Located at the corner of Clay and Washington streets, the EZ Mart owners’ original plan had complications due to lot size and the maneuverability of not only customers but fuel delivery vehicles and garbage trucks. A few weeks back, the owners had the opportunity to purchase 61 feet which opened the lot size drastically. With the allocation of the additional parcel, construction planners were able to open up the space as well as close one of the driveways at the request of the planning commission.
“Everything was real tight up from where we were building,”said Land and Resource Engineering Inc. President Todd Olin. “With the additional maneuverability it allowed us to remove the (driveway) closest to the intersection at Clay.”
However, the new site plan for the EZ Mart project allowed commissioners to examine it in detail as it relates the MUD ordinance. The planning commission recently amended the MUD ordinance to allow gas stations in the zoning district as a special land use.
“This is a special land use so you are approving the use,” Johnson said. “We focus on the site plan characteristics. You have to ask if this use is appropriate for this site.”
Commissioners discussed a myriad of details on the site plan — everything from the facade to landscaping to setbacks to parking to lighting.
One issue that presented itself was the matter of building materials. The ordinance requires 80 percent of the building to be made of specific materials, including stucco, brick, stone, glass, masonry block and other similar materials at the discretion of the planning commission. Although planners were adhering to the 80 percent rule, commissioners questioned if it was actually achieving the results they desired when they created the ordinance.
“They have really good materials, it’s just they’re trying to follow our recommendations to the letter and its just not working,” Planning Commissioner Corey Smith said. “It doesn’t have the detail of this neighborhood. I felt the character of the building didn’t match what was around it even though they were meeting all the requirements sent forth.”
Smith discussed the various architecture and facades of the adjoining residential neighborhood. Commissioners discussed whether they could mold the 80 percent rule to allow more aesthetics in the architecture.
Another issue which came up was regarding the east side of the building, where the dumpster and employee parking are located. The commission discussed if employees parking there would be in danger of accidents as they are backing out. They also discussed how the garbage truck would maneuver and how snow would be removed in that area.”
“I’m not sure there’s a better place for the dumpster,” Johnson said. “When the winter comes, it may be hard to get in and out of there.”
Commissioners also discussed the location of landscaping. Some of the landscaping looked like it might be sight-restrictive and commissioners would like to see it moved changed. They also discussed using more landscaping to act as a light buffer to ease light noise on nearby residential properties.
Other issues with the site plan were technical in nature which mainly involved labeling specifics on the plan. Olin agreed to take the site plan and revise it to the commission’s specifications. He will present the updated site plan at the May 28 planning commission meeting.
In the end, commissioners agreed they want to see the project move forward while adhering to the vision they set forth when creating the MUD zone.
“I use the store every morning before I go to work,” Greenville City Councilman Brian Greene said. “I’ve been waiting to see something done with this. I think it will be a large draw for people on that side of town.”