WHEELING - The Wheeling Board of Zoning Appeals on Thursday approved several variances for a parking lot on the former site of DiCarlo's Pizza at 1222 Main St., even though city officials said the parking area was completed months ago without a building permit.
The property's owner, RCK 2 Group - owned by Wheeling lawyer Robert Fitzsimmons - has agreed to lease the lot to WesBanco, which is using it for 14 accessory parking spaces.
The old DiCarlo's building was demolished last year, and the business now operates at 1311 Main St. Assistant Director of Economic and Community Development Tom Connelly said a permit was issued for the demolition, but city officials in March learned the lot had been paved without a permit and at that time requested Fitzsimmons go through the proper channels.
Photo by Ian Hicks
The Wheeling Board of Zoning Appeals on Thursday approved variances for this parking lot at the former site of DiCarlo’s Pizza at 1222 Main St.
"Ideally, this would have been in front of (the BZA) when the building was still up or when it was still a gravel lot. ... They were basically being asked to approve something that already had been done," said Connelly.
That process began a couple months ago, when the city Planning Commission approved a special use permit for the lot in May. But the BZA twice tabled the variance requests - most recently last month because only three board members were present and David Ellwood said he would have to abstain due to a conflict of interest, leaving the board one short of a quorum necessary to take the vote.
Fitzsimmons said during the May Planning Commission meeting when the special use permit was approved, he asked whether he could allow WesBanco employees to begin parking in the lot.
"My understanding from that meeting was that it was OK to do that," he said.
On Thursday, BZA members ultimately granted six of seven requested variances allowing the lot's owner to: reduce the rear and side setbacks for a parking lot to zero; eliminate the one handicapped parking space that would have been required; eliminate the screening, lighting and drainage requirements; and construct parking spaces that back out directly onto a public street or roadway. The spaces back out onto an alley that runs from Market to Main streets.
Board members, however, denied one requested variance that would have exempted the site from the city's requirement for landscaping to break up the monotony of parking lots.
Fitzsimmons said he filled in the lot with asphalt after the building came down for safety and aesthetic reasons. The yellow lines weren't painted for spaces until much later, he said.
Connelly said penalties are possible whenever zoning code is violated, but are rarely levied in cases like this one where the property owner is cooperative in complying with the rules, even after the fact. He doesn't expect the city to take any action as long as the landscaping requirement is observed - something Fitzsimmons said he fully intends to do.
When WesBanco's lease expires, the variances will have to go before the BZA again, Connelly noted.
In other business, board members denied Joel Cerritos' request to build a shed at 107 N. Huron St., a lot that he owns but is not adjacent to other property he owns on that street. They felt approving the request would set an undesirable precedent for allowing sheds to be built on vacant lots.