Return to sender

Proposed ordinance amendments
sent back to planning commission

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – The Planning Commission will revisit three proposed ordinance amendments after City Council members deferred action on them Monday.

Councilman Leonard Sabuda said he was concerned that the changes could hurt local store owners.

“I looked at the minutes of the (commission) meeting, and there was no one representing the store people,” Sabuda said, “and I know that some of these things are going to hurt the small businesses.”

Two of the ordinances involved special uses by stores that sell alcohol; a third would govern temporary signs in the central business district. Sabuda’s main concern was an amendment that would prohibit delivery truck loading and unloading from the street, requiring delivery vehicles to use off-street parking – typically the store’s customer parking lot.

The councilman, who once operated a store, said many retail businesses have small parking lots. When two or more delivery trucks arrive at the same time, he said, they often can’t unload at the same time from the store’s parking lot and sometimes move to the street.

Delivery schedules of beverage trucks often do not permit them to come back later that day or even another day that week, Sabuda said, and as a result, stores could end up short of stock.

“If that store’s not having stock, they’re not making money,” he said. “They’re going to be up here talking to us if this ordinance is going to be enforced completely and thoroughly.”

He said he could understand the need for an amendment if accidents had been caused by delivery trucks parked on a street; it would give police “something to go back to.”

City Engineer Mark Kowalewski said the proposed amendments would not affect current business owners, and that the “special land use” provisions were added at the council’s direction to provide guidelines for special use requests.

“It’s not for existing store owners,” said Kowalewski at Monday’s City Council meeting, adding that the amendment would apply to new owners of businesses that don’t sell alcohol.

Councilman James DeSana said a store “occupancy issue” was what prompted the council to refer the delivery truck issue to the commission for clarification. Currently, when a store is vacant for more than six months, it loses its “nonconforming status” variance that might have otherwise been “grandfathered in” for a new store owner.

“I don’t recall any of the other issues,” DeSana said. “We didn’t have any discussions about a Coca-Cola truck parking on any particular street and unloading.”

Sabuda asked if the commission notified any convenience store owners of its meeting in time to receive their input. He also wondered whether the proposed amendments would affect stores’ ability to use outdoor storage pods for returnable empty beverage containers or merchandise, and what they would mean to new businesses’ ability to post signs.

DeSana said a temporary outside banner and sign amendment was added to provide guidelines for approvals sought by businesses with seasonal outdoor cafes in the city’s central business district along Biddle Avenue.

Kowalewski said input from current store owners was not sought because the intent of the amendments was to provide guidelines for upcoming special use approvals; they were not meant to impact existing businesses.

“All I’m looking for is some consistency,” Sabuda said.

The next Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 17 in the council chambers.

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