Archived Story

O’Reilly Auto Parts must change design plan before coming to Niles

Published 9:02am Friday, May 30, 2014

Niles said “O-O-O” no to O’Reilly Auto Part’s request to deviate from the rules laid out in the city’s South 11th Street overlay.

According to the zoning ordinance, businesses on the busiest street in Niles must have at least 30 percent of a street-facing wall covered by windows or a similar material.

O’Reilly, which plans to build at a vacant lot on the corner of Superior and South 11th streets, asked the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals Wednesday if it could forgo putting windows on the side of the building that would face Superior Street.

Speaking in the public comment portion of the meeting, City Administrator Ric Huff said he was opposed to the variance request. The location of the building, he said, would be 10 feet higher than any other building in the area, causing it to sit up “like a castle on a hill.”

Motorists traveling north on South 11th Street, he said, would see an unattractive blank wall if windows were not installed on the south-facing side of the building.

“This is the wrong place to apply a variance,” Huff said. “It is way too high profile a location.”

Wade Lininger, speaking on behalf of O’Reilly Automotive Stores, said placing windows on that wall would result in greater construction and utility costs.

Huff suggested that O’Reilly place fake glass on the south-facing wall.

Zoning Board member Paul Crouch agreed.

“This idea of fake glass would solve the issue,” he said.

The zoning board denied the request.

Juan Ganum, Niles community development director, said O’Reilly’s next step would be to revisit its plans for the exterior of the building.

Lininger said current plans have O’Reilly satisfying the ordinance’s 30-percent window coverage on the side of the building that would face South 11th Street.

The zoning board also denied a variance request by Fred Boothby to place two wall signs on the structure at 20 N. Second St. The first sign would read “20 N” and be placed on the front of an awning above a second story window. According to the city’s central business district sign regulations, signs cannot be placed above a second story window. The second sign would read “on the river” and be placed on the front of a first floor awning. The sign ordinance also does not allow for two wall signs.

Also Wednesday, the planning commission considered a site plan for the remodeling of the existing Burger King at 1250 S. 11th St.

Ganum said the planning commission preferred the most recent exterior design. He said the commission could consider final approval of the site plan at the June meeting.

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  • L. Moore

    Another auto parts store?????? Wouldn’t it be better use of the property and location for an Applebee’s-Friday’s-Chili’s type restaurant?? It’s not like we have a huge dining choice without driving to South Bend…………

    • Andrea Trevino

      Agree 110%!!! We def need more dine-in options !

  • Dottie

    Niles use to have gas stations on every corner, then it went to banks on every corner. Are we now going to have a parts store on them now?? 4 in a row is just a little bit to much. Are you trying to let them do what Wal-Mart and the other big store did , run our old favorites out of business as that thought “hey a new business lets go there”. Now all you hear standing in line is “I sure wish we still had such and such store in town”. We could have had University Park Mall out on the highway when it first went in but the powers to be said we don’t need something like that. WELL we don’t need another parts store to take away customers and maybe cause the ones who have been here a long time to close. I agree with others we could use a better selection of restaurants without having to drive to South Bend or Mishawaka. We need business to come and stay not come and cause others to close. Mr. Ganum needs to learn more on what this community really needs.

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