7:00 P.M.

  2. The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by Chairman William G. Syfert.

  4. Members Present: Donald Darby, Councilman Steve Galster,

    Richard Huddleston, David Okum, Councilman

    Tom Vanover, David Whitaker and Chairman


    Others Present: Derrick Parham, Asst. City Administrator

    William McErlane, Building Official

    Don Shvegzda, Asst. City Engineer

    Anne McBride, City Planner

  6. Mr. Galster moved for adoption and Mr. Vanover seconded the motion. By voice vote, all voted aye, and the Minutes were adopted with seven affirmative votes.

    1. Report on Council
    2. Mr. Galster reported that Sears the Great Indoors was before Council and was approved with seven affirmative votes.

    3. Zoning Bulletin Ė August 10, 2000
    1. Concept Discussion Ė Proposed alterations to Steak Ďní Shake, Princeton Road (Applicant requested to be tabled to September)

Mr. McErlane reported that the applicant was contacted and he asked to have this application withdrawn until they can reevaluate what they want to do on the property. Mr. Galster moved to withdraw the application and Mr. Vanover seconded the motion. By voice vote, all voted aye and the application was withdrawn.

    1. Sears The Great Indoors, 11925 Commons Drive Ė Final Plan Approval of Proposed Alterations

Dan Wisk of Sears Roebuck approached the Commission and Mr. Syfert suggested reviewing the staff reports first.

Mr. McErlane stated that the applicant has addressed a number of items that were discussed in the preliminary approval. The only items Planning needs to look at are the sign issues, which we touched on earlier.






Mr. McErlane stated that Planning looked at the major building signs previously and they are the same size. Each of the wall signs that say The Great Indoors is 496.5 square feet each for a total of 992 s.f. There is one small wall sign that says Starbucks Coffee at the café that is 24 s.f. and they total 1,016 s.f. The allowable sign area is 702 s.f. The applicant has indicated that they are attempting to try to gain a panel on the existing sign that has Dave & Busterís on it, which would add additional square footage to the sign area for the building, but we donít know what that will be until they settle on something, or if that comes about.

There is still a question about an easement for access to the rear parking lot. It is shown to connect into the Tri-County Commons Shopping Center parking lot in the rear. At this point, we donít have a copy of any access agreement that would allow that.

The covenants are the same that we have seen since the beginning. The only added documentation we received is what we think is Exhibit A. There was a separate sheet that needs to be labeled Exhibit A, and we will run it past the law director to make sure everything is okay.

Mr. Wisk said we have been contacting the landowner to obtain an easement, and have been unsuccessful so far. We are not sure they have a high degree of motivation to do this, so we have proposed an alternate, a turn around that will allow customers adequate space to park and if the turn around is full, make a complete 180 degree turn and go back out to the main parking field. Mr. Wisk passed around a paper showing what they were planning.

In terms of signage, the square footage matches our numbers. We are not allowed to have a separate pylon or monument sign, so we are trying to get a panel on the Dave & Busterís sign, but havenít been successful up to this point, so we will live with what we have on the building.

Mr. Wisk added normally our employees (about 100 per shift) would use the parking in the back of the building and in the perimeter portion of our lot. That normally would not be customer parking.

Addressing the landlord, Mr. McErlane said The Great Indoors is proposing to paint the back of the building, but it has been hit or miss as to which tenants paint the back of the building. Would you look at that and see if you can make it look a little better back there?

Mr. Larry Bergman responded that he would, adding that recently they have had a change. There was a group out of New York handling management, and Bergman Group handled the leasing. The ownership decided it made more sense to have Bergman Group to take care of management, and in the last couple of weeks, we have been making improvements to landscaping. The filthy awnings at Roberds are being addressed this week. Not only does the back need painting, but we feel there is tut pointing necessary.





Mr. Huddleston asked for an explanation of the cross easement that is required to access the Tri-County Commons, commenting that it was preexisting. Mr. McErlane responded that particular parking field that is shown directly behind the space does not exist at this point. They are accessing the extreme east end of it. Staffís comments early on were that we didnít want it that long of a dead end, particularly if there was a potential for all the parking spaces to be filled.

Ms. McBride reported that the parking spaces required, excluding the Roberds space, is 1693 spaces. There is a total proposed of 1199, so Planning will have to determine if that is adequate parking and make a provision for that in the approval.

We have talked about the 93 spaces that are to the rear of the center. In addition to the cross access easement, we would want to make sure that there are three additional parking spaces on that PUD to the south, because they would be losing three parking spaces with the punch through from the proposed Sears store into the existing parking field.

The compactor has been relocated to the southwest corner of the building and there will not be any additional screening of that unit.

Staff has had an ongoing concern about the merchandise pickup area which is located on the west end of the building, and that has been redesigned to staffís satisfaction. They now have relocated a number of the handicapped parking spaces and have created two parking spaces that are to be designated customer pickup spaces, so that whole area works much better than the original design that was proposed.

The applicant has committed to the fact that there will be no cart or merchandise stored on a permanent basis outside the store. There is a retaining wall proposed for the north part of the dock area to screen the dock area from the customer pickup area. The height of that wall varies from 8 to 10 feet and is to be concrete masonry wall and painted rust.

The plan indicates 1,000 square feet of the building area will be used for a café. As the commission has discussed, there also will b an outdoor eating area that will include 690 s.f. of seating area on the front of the building. The commission needs to consider whether or not it is appropriate to have people eating in the parking lot. They are proposing to designate off that area with a 36" high wrought iron fence that would have a six-foot wide opening. Previously the commission said they did not want to see any openings. It indicated that there was a detail of the fence on the elevation, but the fence does not appear on the elevation, so we would need to see details of that should the commission decide that it is appropriate to eat outdoors at this location.

The landscaping plan has largely been revised to include the irrigation that we proposed and minor revisions to the plant material to our satisfaction.





Ms. McBride added that the lighting proposed is to match the lighting already on the site, and we are requesting that the light pack fixtures be non-glare or shielded types on the rear of the building.

There is a total of 702 s.f. of signage permitted for the building, and 1,031 s.f. is proposed excluding any freestanding signage that they may be getting. The commission needs to look at the sign and location of the building, as you have given consideration to other retailers in that complex.

They provided us with a material board and colors and samples. The only other condition was the Planning Commission requested that the mechanical equipment be screened on the rooftops and they are proposing to do that on three sides by extending the parapet walls 4í-2".

Mr. Wisk stated on the parking, we feel the uses in the center right now when you look at our hours of operation and the peak parking periods for an operation like Dave & Busterís are pretty complementary. They are parking in areas and at times when we are not a heavy user of the parking lot. When they are peak parked we are not. According to code we are probably not adequately parked, but we feel for our uses which we are very aware of and concerned about, that there is adequate parking on the center.

On losing the three parking spots in back, that would be contingent on receiving a cross access agreement which we have been unable to obtain and is why we proposed the turn around out back.

On the front part of the page, we have no issues with the points that have been brought up and have agreed to the changes that were proposed.

On the café area, in all the existing Great Indoors stores we have a

Café with outdoor seating, and it is an integral part of our business. We feel the café gives our customers a place to take a few minutes to rest, have a cup of coffee or soft drink and mull over their decision, because customers spend several hours at a time in our store. So, it is an integral part of our business and is required for us. We have a licensed business agreement with Starbucks and Vita France and their agreement for them to go into our store requires that they have outside access.

We have discussed some of the concerns of the review, and the issue with the opening of the gate was a concern because of the potential for children to leave the café patio area and go out into the parking area and traffic. We think the solution for that would be to offset that gate with a landscape buffer between the parking area and the fence and make a non direct path out to the parking fields so we would direct all the customers either to the front doors or further down to the other side of the building. That would give somebody an approximate 50-foot run once they left the café before they could turn out into the parking area. We think it would be visually appealing to gives a nice landscape buffer and prevent people from going directly out.





Mr. Wisk said before I went to work with Sears I worked for a number of restaurant companies, and we felt outdoor dining was something todayís customers really expect. We put patios in all our restaurants, used a wrought iron fence and had a gate situation. That is also another possibility; we could put a self-latching gate in that opening if you felt that appropriate. Outdoor dining in the Cincinnati market seems to be a popular option, and I think it would be a valuable addition for our store also.

Ms. McBride said the applicant is talking about a revision to the rear area with the 93 parking spaces and if they were not successful in obtaining that cross access easement and the commission chose to give them that latitude, you would want to make that contingent on staffís review and approval of the design of that turnaround because they will lose parking spaces when they do it and we want to make sure that it does provide adequate turnaround.

Ms. Wess said you donít actually lose parking spaces with that turnaround. As you can see from the plan, you actually gain one space on the short turn. The 24 foot drive aisle at the back of the

stripe would be striped out. Mr. Syfert said Anneís point is whatever has to be done, we would want to have staff approval. Mr. Wisk agreed.

Mr. Wisk said we have 16 feet between the curb and the fence surrounding the café. Mr. Okum wondered if people would be able to enter through that area and Mr. Wisk answered that they would.

Mr. Okum said on the lighting, they should be either down it or screened for glare.

Mr. Bergman said I want to tell you the efforts that have been put in on the easement issue. North American developed the center and it has been sold to Kimco and it serves them no purpose to give the easement, and we have been unsuccessful. It is critical for Sears to have the turnaround issue resolved tonight to get this deal done. Mr. Okum responded as long as the staff gives approval, I donít have a problem with it. I would like to see the cross easement, but if it doesnít happen, that wonít be an issue for me.

Mr. Okum said it looks like you are using sodium packs for lighting for your employees which means that in order for them to transfer the light out to the edge of the parking area for employee safety, there may be an issue of glare into the adjacent property. Iím not saying that I would like to see a pole mounted out there and downlit, but it may be necessary to prevent the glare.

I have the same concern regarding how you are going to light your truck dock area. You have four truck bays and a pole on the edge that is in the landscaped area, which is also sloped down. The next nearest light to that is in the parking field on the side of the building. I donít mind the truck area being dark, but I can see electrical contractors coming in and throwing light packs on the side of the building in that area so t hey can see when they are loading or unloading or at least backing in.





Mr. Wisk reported most of our loading and unloading occurs during hours of operation, primarily during daylight hours. We donít get a lot of trucks coming in at night. If we do it is a situation where they are going to drop the truck that evening to be unloaded in the morning.

Mr. Okum said I would like to see the staff review that lighting plan as well as the employee safety issue in the employee parking area.

Mr. Okum added the large island on the west side has been recommended for irrigation to maintain the planting material. On the other hand, we see a lot of people going across that area. The other islands are traversed across by pedestrians constantly and I wonder if there could be a break where the cart corral is or where there is a catch basin that might be able to handle the transfer of people. If I parked in that field, I would take the easiest diagonal I could into the store. There should be a place that pedestrians can cross over.

I was concerned about how the parking area of the trucks was going to be treated with landscaping on the southern portion of the site closest to the main traffic roadway. lf you look at your topographical elevations, that does drop about three to four feet from the top edge of the curb down into the truck dock area. That means if you put an eight foot evergreen on that slope, it will be a five foot evergreen at the top, so we will have a 13 foot truck with a five foot evergreen blocking it. I donít think we are really screening at all. The applicant increased the number of evergreens from eight to nine in that area, but I think more needs to be done there. Mr. Syfert asked if he was recommending taller trees, and Mr. Okum answered I donít know. Iím almost inclined to say a wall to break that. The applicant did a wall on the other side for the very same reason, and we have a similar situation here. That is the main entrance into the development; I am open for suggestions.

Mr. Wisk said I would suggest more substantial specimens rather than wall; it would be more attractive. Mr. Okum said with the slope it would be difficult. Ms. McBride added I tend to agree with the applicant. Iím not so sure that a wall is what we want to see either.

Mr. Galster said they could put small tree wells there, get some more trees in there and you should get enough flat surface to get the plantings in there good. Ms. McBride added and they could take the pines from 8 feet to 10 feet; that is what we require in other parts of the city and would give you another two feet.

Mr. Wisk wondered if instead of doing wells they should berm the area up more. Ms. McBride responded I donít know if grading wise you can do that. Mr. Shvegzda added you already have a slope in that area that would be hard to firm it up. Mr. Syfert commented I think we all agree that something more should be done there. Mr. Okum added and certainly more than nine trees.







Mr. Wisk said it is about 150 feet. I think increasing the number of specimens there and increasing their height, going to a 10-foot tree if that is what we want to do is probably a better long term option here.

Mr. Okum responded I would encourage the 10-foot tree as well as bringing them to a level that would be at 650. It can taper down closer as you go up to the roadway. In the truck dock area, you would be putting a higher curb to carry the load. Will that work Mr. Shvegzda?

Mr. Shvegzda answered it wouldnít affect the water flow. The wells would be nothing more than like a keystone wall, similar to what is on Kemper Road. It would basically be a semi-circle.

Mr. Shvegzda reported that concerning the major storm flow, we have a detention basin to the northwest of the building itself. Information has been submitted that defines where the major storm routing is. The one issue that has to be dealt with concerning the landscaping plan is the northern end of the newly constructed berm area between parking spaces is designated for the major storm flow to come up to and flow over into the next parking area on its way to the pond. Some of the landscaping plans indicated some mounding in the area and some specimens to be planted, and that will have to be dealt with in regards to providing a clear path for the major storm.

It is part of the major storm routing. There is one area to the east of that landscaped berm that during this major storm which is an extreme (July 1, 1985) event, there will be about 18 inches of water ponded up over one of the catch basins in that area. This is an extreme event that probably would have occurred regardless of whether there was detention there or not. This is something for the tenant to be aware of in that area, and if it is acceptable to the tenant, we donít have a problem with it.

On the traffic, the applicant has agreed to contribute $30,000 toward the construction of the Kemper Road Phase III improvements that will deal with part of the traffic increase in this area. There has been additional transition between the width of the public and private portions of the ring road. That is now acceptable.

One issue we looked at during the staff meeting regards parking heading into either a sidewalk area or into the building. In order to prevent the vehicles from overhanging the sidewalk or coming into the building, there needs to be bumper blocks placed in those areas.

Mr. Wisk agreed with all the comments. Ms. Wess asked where the bumper blocks needed to be placed, in the merchandise pickup area? Mr. Shvegzda stated that it needs to be along the west face of the building, the pickup area, and I think the employee parking spaces are 90 degrees into the building area.







Mr. Vanover said early on we had some concerns about the storm

water, that we didnít have the sheeting over the roadway to go into the retention basin. Has that been taken care of? Mr. Shvegzda answered yes, there is an area where it will enter the ring road and travel on. There is some additional grading proposed on the west side to accommodate that flow getting into the basin.

Mr. Galster said I know the signage on the building is over a little bit, but I think for the size of the building it looks proportionate and right, so I donít have a problem with that.

On the café, I think the idea of allowing a little more time for someone to notice that their kid is gone is a good one. I like the fact that there is not a direct access out, but I would still like to see a gate on the opening as a second fall back.

Dave suggested breaking up the parking island so there is access. Are you suggesting making two islands or a couple of meandering pathways. Mr. Okum responded if you go to C-300 they have topos on the heights and they have created a low spot where they have a catch basin about 2/3rds of the way down. They are going from a high spot to a low spot and that would be a place to do it. This is where the catch basin is and they could handle the flow of water in that same area. I would think a little paver walkway over it; a bridge of pavers would be nice. Mr. Wisk said I would agree. Invariably the customers find their way across these islands on their own, and if you give them a designated spot, it will maintain the look of the landscaping a lot better; I think it is a great idea.

Mr. Okum wondered where the dirt would go. Mr. Bergman responded we are working on that. Right now the closest place is Loveland and the cost is immense. We are talking to Rumpke and they are talking about using some of that dirt for their land cap and we are talking to Sears about filling in the oak rail area, but that is very small.

Mr. Huddleston wondered if the city had ball fields or open areas that needed fill. Mr. Bergman said we are trying to find someplace close. Hopefully the city would like it; there is no place within the site that we can move it to.

Mr. Okum moved to grant the final plan approval for The Great Indoors with the following conditions:

    1. That the law director review and approves the covenants;
    2. That the outdoor eating area is to be screened with plant material; that there shall be a landscaped buffer as a separation and gates shall be installed on the six foot entranceway as suggested by applicant and approved by staff;
    3. That the turnaround at the rear of the building is to be approved by staff for turning radius and safety;
    4. That the applicant shall increase the trees on the southwest side to 10 foot with tree wells to maintain the 650 foot height at the top of the ball (base elevation);


      12 SEPTEMBER 2000



    6. That the screening shall be adequate to break the view of the truck loading area and approved by staff;
    7. Additional parking bumper blocks shall be added to where the parking areas adjoin the walkways;
    8. All staff recommendations by engineer, planner and building official shall be incorporated into the motion.

Mr. Huddleston seconded the motion.

Mr. Vanover said for clarification, the sign package would exclude the potential on the pole sign; that would be a separate issue and have to be brought back in for approval later.

Mr. Galster said also to clarify, the crossovers for the pedestrians on the islands should be included. Also, do we need to put in the covenants that there should be no alcohol served in that outdoor dining area or can we make it a part of this motion?

Ms. McBride reported the applicant had indicated in one of their revised submittals that there would be no alcohol served on the premises. Mr. Galster asked if that needed to be in the covenants. Ms. McBride responded it was part of the application that the commission is acting on, so I donít think so.

Mr. Okum amended his motion to include the crossovers in the landscaped island and we concur with the applicantís request that it not include alcohol in the patio area.

Mr. Huddleston seconded the amended motion.

On the motion to approve, voting aye were Mr. Okum, Mr. Huddleston, Mr. Galster, Mr. Vanover, Mr. Darby, Mr. Whitaker and Chairman Syfert. Final approval was granted with seven affirmative votes, and will be forwarded to Council.

Mr. Syfert thanked the applicant. We have come a long way, and I think it will be a great thing. Mr. Wisk added I think it will be a great location. Itís a great community for us to be in and we are happy to be a part of this community.

    1. Buffer Lighting Zones (tabled 8/8/00)

Mr. McErlane reported that this is the same thing we have seen for the last two months, but the other recommended changes, there is the change in Article 2 for definition of area building. The only impact this has is on accessory buildings and structures so that when we determine the area, we are including any kind of open porched area or something of that nature. This issue came up in BZA relative to a porch on an accessory structure.

The other change to Article 36 is to include some uses that used to be in a retail service district, which is not our support service district.




  2. Mr. McErlane said that when we were putting together the zoning code as a committee, we thought the definition of retail service activity would include a number of these things, but I donít think it clearly defines it as such and we have some existing establishments that are in this zoning district that without these descriptions would be non conforming uses, like Loweís and Delhi Garden Center.

    One of the things we did change from the previous code is a tighter restriction on outside display of items relative to garden equipment and home improvement items. The previous description in the code just required a setback; it didnít require an enclosure around it or anything of that nature. This gives Planning Commission more control on how they display and store items outside for sale.

    The last item is the parking table, which we already have in the code. The only amendment I need to make is it should fit in Zoning Code Section 153.502(A). All we will need to do is to clean this detail up so you can read it a little better, but this is to take care of an issue of how we measure these distances.

    Mr. Okum said there was retail service district, support service district computer service and sales distribution. Letís say Gateway Computer wanted to move there and they had a service center for computers. Wouldnít that be the same type of business?

    Mr. McErlane responded I think you want to stop short of a straight retail activity, because this zoning district only opens it up to specific retail activities. A distribution center is already an allowable use in there, and repair facilities for electrical appliances is also in there. The intent of this district was not to allow for straight retail sales, only for specific products. This district allows for a sales office if retail sales are limited to five per cent of the floor area.

    Mr. Galster said on the parking garage for Pictoria Tower I, how did that come out from last monthís meeting?

    Mr. McErlane reported that they have provided us with some information. I donít know that we are totally convinced, and Anne has been on vacation so I havenít been able to share it with her. They provided information from Hamilton County Zoning Code, one other zoning code and a parking consultant.

    Ms. McBride added while I was gone information from Urban Land Institute came the dimensions of parking, so I ordered that and for next month we will have that. It is a whole book on nothing but the dimensions.

    Mr. Okum wondered if parking garages shouldnít be included in the code, and Mr. McErlane responded that would be specific to that one particular approval. We may be looking at having to evaluate parking garages separately from outdoor parking lots.





    12 SEPTEMBER 2000


  4. Mr. Galster wondered if there were other items to recommend and Mr. McErlane answered that does it as of today. The law director mentioned case law on political signs, but he did not get me any information on it.

    Mr. Huddleston wondered if there was anything in the code on the electronic appliances versus the electrical appliances that needs to be addressed? Mr. McErlane responded I donít believe so, because we pretty much open our office general business and this district to office type environments where they might do mail order or internet sales, because they donít have the kind of traffic coming in and out like a retail or office use does.

    Mr. Huddleston added one national trend is a lot of big retail boxes have been converted to back office operations in parts of the country. It is some5lthing to think about for the future.

    Mr. Galster moved to refer the zoning changes to council and Mr. Vanover seconded the motion. All voted aye, and the motion was adopted unanimously and will go forward to Council.



Mr. Galster moved to adjourn and Mr. Vanover seconded the motion. By voice vote, all voted aye, and Planning Commission adjourned at 8:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,



___________________,2000 ________________________

William G. Syfert, Chairman



___________________,2000 ________________________

David Whitaker, Secretary