Monday, June 26, 2006

Administrative Appeal - Tuesday, July 11

The administrative appeal made by Mark Furfari has been scheduled for review by the Board of Zoning Appeals for Tuesday July 11, 2006 at 6:30 PM in city Council Chambers. Mike Castle has presented some plans for improvements of Whitemore Park at his expense to appease our neighborhood concerns. Mark F. will get a clarification of these improvements and will communicate what he is offering. Interested? Please attend the July 11th meeting. PS - more about this will be discussed at the July 9th monthly Woodburn meeting.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Meeting Minutes from June 4, 2006

Present: Cheryl Torsney, Patrick Kirby, Julie Zuercher and Patrick, Karen Woodfork, Shelia Voorhees, Ann Wiley, Tamara Riegel, Landon Carrell, Louise Taft, Susan Eason, Paul Atkins, Michelle Lester, Jamie Lester, Dave McClure, Lori Halverson, Joel Halvorsen, Anne Miller, Chris Haddox, Buffy and Nathan Vehse

Susan Eason convened the meeting at 4:05 and presented a simple procedure for conducting business with motions made, seconded, discussed, and voted upon. Jamie Lester moved acceptance of the procedure. Karen Woodford seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

A handout was distributed delineating the boundaries of the Woodburn neighborhood. Jamie Lester moved to accept the boundaries, noting that they can be changed in the future. Michelle Lester seconded. Discussion occurred about engaging in discussion landlords with property in areas adjacent to the marked boundaries of Woodburn. The motion passed unanimously.

Signage marking the boundaries of the Woodburn neighborhood was discussed. Ron Justice noted that there is $25,000 available through City Council for neighborhood signs; that most signs cost about $2,500 each. An idea to use small flags on street signs was presented. Also noted were the following: 1) there are many entrances to Woodburn; 2) the signs should have an antique flavor to reflect the age of the neighborhood; and 3) a concern that the signs would be vandalized.

Five designs were voted upon, and Design 1 carried the day. Karen Woodfork moved acceptance of Design 1. Chris Haddox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Chris Haddox said that he will work with Jamie Lester on getting the signs made.

Discussion regarding placement of the signs proceeded. Three locations were nominated: the Beauty Spot at the bottom on Monongalia Ave., where it meets Richwood Ave.; on Richwood Avenue on the Woodburn School property; and at the intersection of Charles and Willey Streets. A fourth location, at the intersection of Willey Street and Monongalia Ave., was also mentioned. Jamie Lester said that he will talk with Bill Mayer, the owner of the High Street Dairy Queen, about locating a sign on his property at the intersection of Charles and Willey Streets.

Karen Woodfork made a motion to consider the first three locations for Woodburn Neighborhood signage. Anne Miller seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Ron Justice addressed a question about the Morgantown Housing Authority and its effort to engage realtors in selling property with a covenant to single families. A weblink to the Housing Authority will be placed on the Woodburn Neighborhood blog.

Cheryl Torsney presented a letter she and Karen Woodfork wrote encouraging the Morgantown Board of Realtors to represent our neighborhood as a diverse neighborhood with many families, not as a student neighborhood. Jamie Lester moved to send the letter. Anne Miller seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

The next agenda item was deciding how to structure our association. Ron Justice suggested keeping the organization and operation simple, and working like the associations in South Park and Wiles Hill. The City can help fund brochures and other sorts of publicity.

Anne Miller and Ron Justice will talk to the members of the South Park group to see how they are organized.

Susan Eason read a letter from Mark and Karen Furfari regarding the four-story apartment complex planned for across the street from the Fishbowl. Mark and Karen seek the advice of the Neighborhood Association on the possibility of appealing the builder’s plans. While the plans seem to meet the minimum for parking, the members of the Association are nonetheless worried about density and parking. Five people will form a subcommittee to pursue this issue.

The Fourth of July block party on McKinley Ave. is on! The Lester family will provide meats, and everyone else should bring lawn chairs, side dishes, and some cash for the kitty to fund the drinks and paper goods.

June 24, 2006, is the date of the Fishbowl’s block party. The Woodburn Neighborhood Association will hold yard sales that morning. Julie Zirkle, Betsy Miller, and Tamara Riegel will handle details.

The next meeting is scheduled for July 9 at 4:30 at Crosley’s.

Respectfully submitted,
Cheryl Torsney

Apartments across from Marios Fishbowl

Hi all,
I'm posting this to let people know about he potential parking problem for the planned apartments across from Mario's Fishbowl. The apartments actually meet the city's requirements for parking for a mixed use dwelling (the city planner told Joel Halverson this too), so the building cannot be appealed on the basis of parking. Please see the information at the end of this email if you are interested in how they determined this - it is, um, interesting...

However, it IS possible to appeal the permit on the basis of the the proposed building's height. A building in a B1 district can be no more than 3 stories or 45 feet. The proposed building is 4 stories.

Paperwork has been filled to appeal this permit, but it's undecided whether the individuals who filled it out are going to go through with filing the appeal. The proposed building is very nice looking, and other projects (e.g. condos on the waterfront) are very upscale and well maintained. However, Mr. Castle seems unconcerned about the parking issue.

He stated that he thinks most customers will walk to the business on the ground floor of his building so it will not need much parking. He is from the urban northeast and is convinced that this is going to be a "pedestrian development" and that most apartment tenants are going to rent parking spaces in the lot by the downtown Dairy Mart and leave their cars there and walk to and from them.

I suspect Mr. Castle has never tried carrying up groceries up the Richwood Avenue hill, or even just walking up that hill in the snow or rain or summer heat!

The logical solution would be for Mr. Castle to decrease the building to three stories, thus staying in line with the zoning ordinance, decreasing the number of units, and easing the parking problem in the neighborhood.

However, Mr. Castle has said that it would not be worth it to him financially to build a structure smaller than four stories and he would not build on that site at all if he could not have the structure he proposed (with the implication that the land would be sold to the highest bidder and who knows what will be put there instead).

So - it is not yet decided whether to file the appeal, as it is uncertain whether it would be worse to have the extra cars or the unknown alternative. I have let them know that a lot of people in our neighborhood are concerned about the parking issue.

Anyone can file the appeal - it is about 3 pages of forms to fill in but Friday is the deadline.

If they do decide to file the appeal, anyone who would like to sign on with them would be appreciated and welcome and can sign the form. So that's where it stands. Please let me know how you would like to proceed.


More on the parking issue:
TRhe city's zoning ordinance and a "mixed use dwelling" requires 1 space per residential unit plus 25% of the spaces required for commercial use. And, to top it off, a B1 business can legally have only 75% of the required parking. A business such as a bakery of professional services business requires 3 spaces per 1000 square feet plus 1 space per employee.

Let's say there are 2 employees - with the proposed 1200 square foot business, that would require 5 spaces, but since it is mixed use, it would only require 25% of 5, or 1 space!! The apartments are planned to contain 6 1-bedroom + 15 2-bedroom apartments, so they would require 21 spaces. That's a total of 22 spaces, but, since it is zoned B1, it can legally get by with only 75% of that, or 17 spaces.

In contrast, a regular apartment building with 6 1-bedroom + 15 2-bedroom apartments and no business underneath would require 29 spaces.

The "mixed use dwelling" designation appears to have been designed for a mom and pop business with mom and pop's house on top of it - not for a multi-unit apartment building with a major business underneath. We need to work with City Council to change this outdated regulation! It will not affect this building, but it will affect the next mega-plex that comes in and replaces a smaller structure.