By Rosemary K. Otzman
The Davenport Brothers strip mall on East Columbia Avenue and the upgrades to Sam Kassab’s building on Main Street both got site plan approvals at the March 13 meeting of the Belleville Planning Commission.
The Davenport Center project can proceed with its extra building for the Affordable Vet office, a building added to the plan late in the process.
The center will include a new Secretary of State’s office and the new location of the Charhouse restaurant with a 96’x45’ area behind the building for outdoor seating near the railroad tracks.
At its February meeting, the planning commission gave Davenport approval to lay cement blocks on its expanded footprint, but nothing more. Now the project can proceed unfettered.
At the March meeting, Architect Wayde Hoppe successfully addressed the ten items the commissioners listed as problems at the February meeting.
The second project on the agenda was presented by property owner Sam Kassab, since Kassab said his architect is still under recovery from thyroid surgery.
Kassab is renovating his vacant building at the city’s entryway on Main Street near the Belleville Bridge.
“I’ve got a couple of people who want to rent and they are almost ready to leave me” because of the delay, Kassab said, referring to the time it is taking him to get city approval.
“I’m just remodeling the building and every single dollar is borrowed,” he said. “And, the bank needs signed leases before they’ll give me the money.”
“We’re OK with the building,” said Commissioner Mike Renaud. “It’s just we need to work with the parking.”
Commission chairman Steve Jones told Kassab he was short on fulfilling the city’s landscaping requirements and the parking layout.
“We’re doing everything to help your project go forward,” Jones said. “You have to make changes for landscaping and entrance” having only one entrance to the parking area.
Kassab said his architect will work with the city’s planning consultant Jill Bahm of Clearzoning.
The commission voted unanimously to give Kassab conditional approval, pending Bahm’s review of the drive, parking, and landscaping.
City Manager Diana Kollmeyer said when Kassab has met the conditions, Bahm and Jones can sit down and give the final approval.
“This will make that end of town much nicer,” Jones said.
“I’m glad we got these two projects under way,” said Renaud. “These two projects definitely are going to be good for the citizens.”
Kassab left the meeting and there was some discussion about how Kassab hadn’t mentioned his 14’ sign. The sign permit is separate from the site plan review.
In answer to a question from the audience, Jones said Kassab said he is planning to resurface just a part of the parking lot he owns, with the rest being reserved for Phase II of his upcoming project along North Liberty Street.
Then, Kassab re-entered the council chambers saying, “We forgot about the sign.”
They explained it was a totally separate permit and he had to follow the ordinance. He said his architect will work with Bahm.
In other business, City Manager Kollmeyer reported that the city will be contracting with Hennessey Engineers to work with the DPW and Water departments, following the retirement of the city’s DPW Director. She said Hennessey carries the water certifications necessary.
She also announced that Rick Rutherford, who has been a building inspector for the city for some time, will be interim building official and will do some ordinance enforcement.
By Rosemary K. Otzman