Board of Zoning Appeals has issued a variance to Preferred Services allowing
that firm to use its facility at 505 Grant Ave.--the old Pioneer Lumber
building--as a “special events center.”
unanimously at their meeting Thursday night to issue the variance, following
a public hearing at which a neighbor and a landlord in the neighborhood
expressed concerns about traffic and noise.
Derrick Serianni, a
principal of Preferred Services, opened the proceeding by noting that the
old Pioneer Lumber building had been “dilapidated” and an “eyesore” before
his firm began rehabbing it, to use both as a special events center and as a
networking hub. “It’s the perfect combination of entertainment, education,
and connecting,” he told the board. “And there’ll be no impact on the
neighbors. We can never compete with the train noise.”
Among the events
which the facility would host are these, Serianni said: worship and
ministry; fundraising events; seminars, lectures, motivational speeches,
workshops, educational training, networking events, and exhibits; markets,
weddings, vendor expos, and parties (class reunions, birthdays, graduations,
retirements, and dances); and live music and art performance.
operations: 6 a.m. to 12 a.m., allowing for unloading and loading and also
“We have more than
adequate parking on site,” Serianni added with space for 150 vehicles.
pledged that Preferred Services will comply with State Fire Code
requirements on such matters as exits, maximum capacity, and seating layout.
He did say that the building was originally constructed without a
fire-prevention sprinkler system and that he is applying for a waiver for a
sprinkler system under Chapter 34 of the Indiana Building Code. “The
building will comply with State Fire Code requirements. Anything they
require we will do everything we can to abide by. Of course we will.”
No one spoke in
favor of the use variance at a public hearing which preceded the vote. Two
persons spoke against it.
Sandra Friday was
perturbed in particular by the fact that, weeks before Serianni even filed
his petition for a use variance, the building was used as a venue for a
motivational speech. “I’m disturbed by the order of things,” she said. “I
would think the variance would come before the first event and grand
recalled the AccuCast fire in 2007, which destroyed an industrial building
across the street from the old Pioneer Lumber building, at which time she
believes that firefighters experienced difficulty in getting their engines
in position on Grant Ave. “I wonder if this would be a concern,” she asked
Paul Childress, who
rents a property in the 300 block of Wabash Ave., on the other hand,
objected to the late hours of operation, until midnight. “That’s a
residential area and I have people who rent that property and live in that
home,” he said. “Those hours of operation are too late for that location.”
Member Kim Goldak
did ask Childress whether his renter complained after the motivational event
at the facility in June. Childress said that his renter did not.
In response to the
remonstrations, Serianni promised to be a good neighbor. “We will take
everyone’s concerns under consideration,” he said. Serianni doubted,
however, that events will go all the way to midnight, but he does want
cleaning crews to be able to work in the building until 12 a.m.
Goldak asked Town
Engineer Mark O’Dell specifically about the fire issue. O’Dell said that
Fire Chief John Jarka has expressed no concerns about access.
That was enough for
Goldak. “I think (Serianni) has done a good job,” she said. “I’ve walked
through it. I think it would be an asset to the town.”
Member Joe Ackerman
wanted to know how many events Serianni plans to host. Two a week, Serianni
replied, although it may take some time before the facility fully “ramps
As to hours of
operation, O’Dell suggested that, perhaps, the special events center be open
only until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, as a reasonable concession to
Serianni balked at
that suggestion. “I wouldn’t put a limit on it, because we’ve been asked by
so many people to use it,” he said.
Kowalski, for his part, didn’t want to limit Serianni either. “I want the
gentleman to have the opportunity to be successful,” he said. Shortening the
hours of operation “would put him at a disadvantage. And if you’re going to
talk about noise, there’s a railroad going right by it. That property was so
deplorable for so many years, and this gentleman has actually beautified
Member Rich Riley
added that the property is zoned I-1. “There are so many uses that could go
there without a variance,” he said. “Compared to those, (a special events
center) is so minimal.”
voted to grant the variance, with the following conditions:
¥The use shall not
be permitted until Serianni receives all required approvals from the State
of Indiana for such use or installs a sprinkler system on the property.
¥If no sprinkler
system is installed, the following shall not be used in the building:
curtains, except flame retardant ones; pyrotechnics; open flames; smoke
machines (not without the express approval of the Fire Chief); and ovens and
¥Occupancy load of
the building must be determined by a licensed architect and meet the
requirements of Chapter 34 of the Indiana Building Code and all other
requirements under Indiana Code.
¥No flammable fuel,
including but not limited to gasoline and kerosene, or equipment that is
powered by flammable fuel, may be stored in the building.
Members also voted
unanimously to grant Preferred Services a second variance, for a total of
535 square feet of signage. Under the Zoning Ordinance, the property is
allowed a maximum of 120 square feet of signage.
free-standing sign, east end, 124 square feet; east end upper wall, 216
square feet; east end, overhead door, 92 square feet; west end, overhead
door, 92 square feet; front entry door, 1.17 square feet; west end, service
door, 9.25 square feet.
The variance as
granted allows no more than 124 square feet for the free-standing sign.
At a public hearing
which preceded the vote, no one spoke in favor of the petition. One person
did express concern, Lesley Friday, who wondered if the board was granting
Serianni permission to install a lighted billboard.
Riley told Friday
that Serianni was not asking for permission to build a bigger free-standing
sign, just to add more information to it.
visibility issue, where it’s situated, I think (the signage request) is
reasonable,” Ackerman said.
“If you look at the
size of the structure, the signage is not abusive,” Goldak concurred. “I
think it’s in good taste.”
In other business,
members voted to hold a public hearing at their next meeting, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 24, on the petition of John Olsen to erect a six foot fence
at his property at 1003-05 S. 18th St., one foot from the unimproved alley
behind his property.
Under the Zoning
Ordinance, six-foot fences may not be constructed any closer than five feet
from alley right-of-ways in residential zones.