Brookside Downtown will not be allowed to add an additional 18 bedrooms to its complex, the Boone County Board of adjustment decided Tuesday.
The board denied the apartment complex’s request to stray from two parts of the city’s unified development code during a meeting Tuesday.
An application submitted by the owners of the building requested permission to move its leasing office to one of the two vacant storefronts on Ninth Street while incorporating an additional four apartments within the building. However, Tim Crockett, partner at Crockett Engineering, the firm hired to renovate the building, presented a new plan to the board Tuesday that included building one additional three-bedroom apartment in that second vacant spot on Ninth Street next to Shakespeare's Pizza. This was a different proposal than what was originally submitted to the board.
Patrick Zenner, development services manager for the city, expressed frustration that the board was not notified of the new design.
“The drawings that Mr. Crockett showed (the board) are not the drawings we did our evaluation on,” Zenner said.
Nonetheless, both variations of Brookside’s plan would violate part of the city code that prohibits a structure from having more than 200 bedrooms per single structure. The plan presented by Crockett on Tuesday would bring Brookside’s count to 213 bedrooms for the downtown complex.
The proposal also would have violated the city requirement to have street-level apartments be built at least three feet above the sidewalk. Brookside wanted to build two apartments in the vacant storefront on Elm Street but requested to keep them at street level in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The complex would have had to build a 44-foot ramp in order to meet ADA requirements, Crockett said.
Zenner said the city already has built into its code opportunities to build an ADA accessible ramp in the vacant lot on Elm Street.
In order to gain exemptions from the zoning code, the owners had to prove its business would experience undue hardship if the city didn’t allow them to deviate from ordinance.
Crockett argued that Brookside has been experiencing hardship by allowing that space to sit vacant for so long when it could have used for additional apartments.
“We’ve been trying to lease the commercial space for 3 1/2 years, and (the owners) had a lot of inquiries about it, but they’re not getting any commercial takers,” Crockett said.
The board did not agree, and Brookside’s request to have the two apartments on Elm Street not be elevated by three feet failed on a 4-1 vote, while the request to have more than 200 bedrooms failed 5-0.
“I don’t feel that applicant has adequately demonstrated that this is actually a practical difficulty,” board member Peter Norgard said. “Looking at this from a practical standpoint, I don’t feel it’s necessarily incumbent on us to grant them an opportunity to fill vacancies using variances to zoning regulations.”
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