LAKEWOOD - Would you want Fairmount Avenue to have an appearance similar to that of the Las Vegas strip?
If you answered "no," then you have that in common with the Lakewood Village Board.
At the board's next regular meeting Monday, a public hearing will be held at 6:45 p.m. to discuss putting a moratorium on issues dealing with zoning permits for electronic advertising signs, special-use permits for vehicle sales and building permits for storage structures.
Any electronic signs, like the one’s currently found on Fairmount Avenue, erected following zoning updates by the Lakewood Village Board may come with restrictions to size and brightness. The board is looking to put a moratorium in place while it discusses new zoning regulations.
P-J photos by Dusten Rader
David Wordelmann, Lakewood mayor, said village officials want to update zoning laws to have a more detailed design layout plan for Fairmount Avenue and other areas of the village.
"We want to come up with a plan to put laws in that will be more straightforward," he said. "More of a detailed business plan for Fairmount Avenue, and what type of businesses should be located in what areas. To have a plan, kind of like a comprehensive plan, for locating businesses in the village."
Wordelmann said with more detailed zoning laws, potential issues could be avoided. One example for special-use permits for vehicle sales is the recent disagreement with Lawrence Spacciapolli for a used-car lot across from Wal-Mart. The board this month approved a special-use permit for the car dealership after first denying the application in November. The board approved the special-use permit with guidelines following the ruling by 8th Judicial District Supreme Court Justice James Dillon. In December, Dillon overturned the Village Board's decision to deny the permit.
Throughout the process of discussing the special-use permit, each board member heard from several residents voicing their displeasure about the proposal for a car lot at the location. One concern dealt with safety because it is a busy intersection. Another question was whether it is the best spot for a car dealership, or if maybe the land would be better suited for a different business. Board members had suggested to Spacciapolli in their opinion a better location for the used-car lot maybe farther west on Fairmount Avenue where other dealerships are located. According to the court transcript, Dillon stated the board couldn't deny the permit based on concerned residents.
''For vehicle sales, we want to come up with a comprehensive plan to avoid the recent incident with Larry (Spacciapolli) and his special-use permit,'' Wordelmann said. ''That way we wouldn't have to have all these special conditions.''
The mayor said with electronic advertising signs, village zoning laws need to be updated to address concerns with brightness and whether they are a distraction for passing motorists.
''If every business has one it would be like driving through Las Vegas,'' Wordelmann said. ''We have no wording in our zoning because it was done before these things were invented. We need to get wording in the zoning laws to regulate them.''
For storage structures, Wordelmann said zoning laws need to be updated so they are not built by individuals in residential areas.
''About a year ago, we had one built in a residential area. The neighbors were upset by having this next to their house,'' he said. ''Right now, it is allowable. We're looking not to have this.''
Wordelmann said the new zoning laws would also address storage-shed businesses. He said, as of now, there are no businesses in the village, but they want to update zoning laws to be proactive in setting criteria on where they can be located.
The mayor said, once the public hearing is held and if the board passes the moratorium, it could be in effect by early February. Wordelmann said the board had discussed putting a deadline on the moratorium at six months, but decided not to in case it takes longer to address the zoning law changes. He said the board wants to make the changes as quickly as possible.