The Board of Zoning Appeals met on Monday, June 6, 2005 for a Special Meeting at 6:00 p.m. In attendance were Mr. Monnett, Mr. Cavanaugh, Mr. Haase and Mr. Matrana.
ROLL CALL/DETERMINATION OF QUORUM
Mr. Carlucci administered the Roll Call.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
OATH OF TESTIMONY
Mr. Daniel administered the Oath of Testimony.
Mr. Matrana reviewed the Guidelines Governing the Conduct of Public Hearings. The first petition before the board tonight is BZA-05-008, which was continued from the last meeting.
Mr. Valanzano said the petition that you have in front of you is not really being continued from the last meeting. It is the initial hearing on this case. This overall project has several elements to it and it included rezonings and annexation through the Plan Commission and Town Council and vacation of an old outdated residential subdivision plat that was in the area. It is still going through the Town Council for vacation of streets rights-of-way and easements through there. The Plan Commission later tonight will be hearing the primary plat on the project and a Development Plan Approval on the project of the architectural and site review.
This element of it is a request for a reduction in the amount of off-street parking spaces. The petitioner said that the proposed user or occupant of the building only needs about 160-165 parking spaces based on how they are going to operate and utilize the facility. The Zoning Ordinance would require about 265 parking spaces. They are asking for a variance for that reduction.
The only concerns that Staff would raise on this that should the building get built and the proposed occupant not occupy is the building or should that tenant occupy the building and subsequently leave for some reason, whether it is two years or 20-30 years from now, that there is some safeguard or fail-safe mechanism be put in place to safeguard the Town’s interest to provide that adequate parking is put in place. So, that a future reuse of the building can be accommodated. Hence the reason for the two recommendations in the Staff Report. With that I would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. Blaine Paul with Duke Construction at 600 E. 96th St., Suite 100, Indianapolis said I’m here this evening to present this variance petition to you. I would like to go through a brief and concise presentation and at that point and time I would answer any questions that you might have. If anything comes to mind while going through this, please feel free to interrupt me and we can address at that point and time.
Here is an aerial view of the property. I realize you folks saw this petition a couple of weeks ago for a different variance petition. But I do want to kind of refresh your memories. I think you guys see a lot of different aerials and projects, etc. This is the old Brunswick Park Subdivision, which is highlighted in red on the screen. It is between SR267 and Perry Road on the north side of Reeves Road. What you see highlighted is to indicate this portion of the site has been rezoned to an I-2 use to accommodate the proposed project. The total building size is 653,000 square feet and that comprises of 638,000 square feet of warehouse space and distribution space and 15,000 square feet of office space.
The rear yard of the project on the north side of the building is where the trailer staging area is located and that is where there are going to be 250 trailer station spots and 65 dock doors and two drive-in doors. There will be no truck maneuvering occurring on the south side of the building. The car parking lot will be located in the front yard, which is on the south side of the building. BD requires 150 employee parking stalls and 10 visitor stalls for a total of 160. The site plan that you have on record is 163 parking stalls. We have met BD requirement.
I also wanted to point out, as part of the project, that there is a five-acre tree preservation area located in the southwest corner of the property. I want to make note of it because it pertains to this variance petition.
Here is a site plan to get everyone’s bearings of where we are. Reeves Road is located on the south side of the property. The trailer staging area is located on the north side, as indicated before. And this is the car parking lot up front. The five-acre tree preservation area occurs in this area right here. At this point and time we have no plans for construction during this project and that area will be fenced off and protected during construction.
The Zoning Ordinance requires that 265 car parking stalls be provided for this facility. BD only needs 160, as I have stated before, and the reason for this is because this is a state-of-the-art distribution facility. It is highly automated. That results in reduced employees per square foot ratio. So, that is why we feel that BD’s requirements are less than the Town’s requirement.
The additional pavement will impact the tree preservation area, and I don’t want to be presumptuous on your part, but I believe that would be a desired asset to the project as it is a desired asset to the client. If we were to install the additional 105 parking stalls, we would reduce the tree preservation area by a little over one acre and we would lose 10 maturity trees, which comprises of about 15% of the total trees that we are saving. I also want to point out that we can look at some site plans here back to this slide but if the parking is ever needed, there is plenty of room on site to accommodate the additional parking required by the ordinance. On the overall site plan you can kind of see in this location here what the additional 105 parking stalls would look like relative to the overall site plan. These are the two 11 x 17 site plans that I provided to you today. The previous exhibits weren’t very clear in this regard so hopefully this clears it up for you. You may only see four trees technically in the footprint of the parking area but in all reality these trees here would also be taken out because of the grading that would be required to transition from what the grades will be along the right-of-way back to what this back of the curb is. Because the road grade relative to the site is not completely flat. The road kind of falls down and the site is going to flatten off. So, that is why we believe we will impact 10 matures trees if this were to happen.
With the regards to the Findings of Fact we believe it is not injurious to the general welfare because in this particular instance all the impacted areas are within the property boundary. And given the nature of the improvement we don’t feel it will impact the general welfare of the community in any way.
It does not affect the value of the property because the adjacent property values are not evaluated based on the size of the adjoining parking lot.
Also, the ordinance resulted in a hardship because the owner doesn’t need the additional 105 parking stalls for any time in the foreseeable future. We feel it would negatively impact our tree preservation area and also just add additional unneeded expense to the project.
So, that is the completion of the presentation this evening and I’m here to answer any questions that you might have.
Mr. Haase said the Staff believes that the petitioner or owner should commit to an appropriate exit strategy. Do you have anything in that regards with you tonight?
Mr. Paul said I don’t have anything on paper but I am prepared to give a verbal commitment that will be on record. If you need us to send a letter in this manner, we can follow up with that tomorrow. I spoke with BD this afternoon about this particular variance petition and shared Staff’s concerns. Essentially what we would like to have is have this variance be applied to this specific development project. If, in the event, they vacate the premises by a land sale or whatnot, that this variance would then terminate and then we would have the opportunity to come back and either get another variance for a subsequent user that has a similar parking need or if they find another user that does require the additional parking, they are going to have to put the parking stalls in anyway. That would be the exit strategy that we would like to propose to you this evening.
Mr. Haase said BD is going to own this property.
Mr. Paul said that is correct.
Mr. Haase asked, is Duke going to manage the facility after it is built?
Mr. Paul said no actually Duke is the third party, build to suit, project so they are going to own it, maintain it, operate it and we are actually we are the general contractor on the project for them. So, that is the difference between this facility and others that we have developed here in Plainfield.
Mr. Haase said I’m gong to ask Attorney Daniel on a performance bond to complete this is it anything that we need to look at?
Mr. Daniel said based upon what Mr. Paul said if they are willing to commit to allow the variance to terminate, you wouldn’t need a performance bond because then the variance is terminated. It is kind of a clumsy way to do it. Because then basically you have a piece of property that is out of compliance with zoning. I’m not sure that is such a good idea. I think probably a better idea, if they are willing to do it, would be to require them to post a bond. That wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. I think what should happen is the variance is restricted, as indicated in the motion, and in the event that they didn’t occupy the property or they ceased to occupy the property, then they would have to come in and get that variance extended at that time for the new owner or they would have to bring the property into compliance and have the parking and that is where your bond issue comes into play.
Mr. Haase said one of the worse case scenarios would be this company coming in, and I don’t know the number, three to five years later, we all know about mergers and acquisitions, or they flat go out of business, then we have, “Oh, yeah we will put it in there but we don’t have any money.”
Mr. Daniel said I think a performance bond is a very fair thing to do. Instead of the variance terminating they would then have to come in here within a period of time and get that extended to the new occupier based on what this board is willing to do or comply with the Zoning Ordinance.
Mr. Haase said those performance bonds are they at a certain amount and they never increase?
Mr. Daniel said generally they are at a certain amount, some estimate given on what it would cost. As a general rule, things don’t change that much that they don’t cover most of it.
Mr. Paul said I understand your concern for requiring that there be a certain amount of money set aside or have that be insured but would it change that need if we were to commit to the fact that before they were to vacate the premises, as soon as it went on the market for sale, that we would address the issue at that point and time before they move on? So, that by the time the new user is found for the facility that they would basically roll right into that subsequently negotiated variance and/or bringing it up to code. Do you understand what I’m saying? It sounds like you are concerned about the building standing vacant for a period of time with a smaller parking lot there. What I’m saying is prior to the building being vacated while they still have the Certificate of Occupancy that this is discussed at that point and time so that you are not sitting in a situation where you have a vacant building for a period of time.
Mr. Daniel said Mr. Haase can respond to that but I think his concern isn’t the vacant building but you could be in a situation where financially someone leaves or sells or whatever else and they just say, “We don’t have the money to put the additional parking in” and then you literally have a piece of property that is out of compliance.
Mr. Paul said a point that I want to make is that we are talking about roughly 105 parking stalls compared to the investment that a second user would be putting into the project. We are talking about a very small dollar amount. To have somebody come in to move into the state-of-the-art facility in the scenario of the picture that you paint where they have gone out of business would be the absolute doomsday scenario. We are talking about a lot of things about this facility that are state-of-the-art. This building has a 40-foot clear span on the inside so there are no structural numbers below that 40-foot distance, which right now that is not the standard. With what the market is it is kind of heading that direction. My point is if you have a buyer that is coming in and they see this facility, state-of-the-art and they need to put in 105 parking stalls, they are going to do it. That is a minuscule amount of money compared to the overall investment. I just wanted to make that point as well.
Mr. Carlucci said we also control the occupancy permits. One scenario that Becton Dickinson could have is they could still be the tenant and sell the building. There are four or five buildings out there. The same building has been sold, one that I know of, three or four different times but they still would be the tenant. That wouldn’t necessarily, if they are still the tenant and not the owner, kick that requirement in. The scenario where they sell the building and move out completely and someone else moves in you would say, “No you can’t move in,” whoever it is, unless you build that parking.
Mr. Daniel said or get another variance.
Mr. Carlucci said right but you would make this variance run with BD’s ownership of that building.
Mr. Haase asked, ownership or occupation?
Mr. Carlucci said ownership/occupation.
Mr. Haase said I would rather that it be the occupation.
Mr. Carlucci said so it would be to their ownership or occupation of that building they have to do nothing but if they vacate the building and sell it, then whoever comes in next we can control that.
Mr. Haase said I would rather have occupation than ownership.
Mr. Daniel said because they could lease it out that needed more parking spaces.
Mr. Matrana said this is a public meeting and is open for anyone to make comments either for or against this proposal tonight. Is there anyone in the audience who would care to speak about this proposal? Being no one coming forward the public part of this meeting is closed and I would like to open this up to the board for discussion and a possible motion.
Mr. Haase asked, who owns that property now?
Mr. Paul said the Indianapolis Airport Authority owns the property at this time.
Mr. Cavanaugh made a motion that the Board of Zoning Appeals approve the Variance of Development Standards BZA-06-008 as filed by Duke Construction Limited Partners to provide for a reduction in the required number of off-street parking spaces from 265 parking spaces to 160 parking spaces subject to the following conditions:
The parking reduction variance shall be limited to the use occupancy of the real estate by Becton Dickinson and Company.
Owner shall provide a recorded commitment on the Exhibit “C” form prior to the issuance of an Improvement Location Permit which provides that: “In the event that Becton Dickinson and Company is not the initial occupant of the proposed building or in the event that Becton Dickinson and Company vacates the premises in total or in part thereby allowing for one or more other users in the building, the owners hall be responsible for the installation of the off-street parking in an amount and configuration which complies with the terms and provisions of the Plainfield Zoning Ordinance. Or obtain additional subsequent variance approvals to extend the use of the existing parking configuration.”
Second by Mr. Haase. Roll call vote called.
Mr. Monnett – yes
Mr. Blevins – absent
Mr. Cavanaugh – yes
Mr. Haase – yes
Mr. Matrana – yes
4-ayes, 0-opposed, 1-absent. Motion carried.
Mr. Paul said thank you very much and we appreciate you having a special meeting for us this evening.
OLD BUSINESS/NEW BUSINESS
Mr. Cavanaugh made a motion to adjourn. Second by Mr. Monnett. Motion carried.
Mr. Rick Matrana, President