A Zoning Board decision Wednesday means a repair shop owner can finally get a certificate of occupancy and also that the place will be improved to meet current standards.
"Maybe you can sparkle the neighborhood," Zoning Board Chairman D. Scott Belin told applicant William Myers.
The Garfield Avenue shop is in the East Second Street Neighborhood Commercial District that residents and merchants say is in dire need of rehabilitation and renewal. A large group implored the City Council Monday to release Urban Enterprise Zone funds to finance streetscape improvements.. While the UEZ funding is a separate matter, sprucing up the repair shop advances the group's overall goals for the neighborhood.
Planning Director Bill Nierstedt said the site at 201 Garfield Avenue was a gas station in 1939, but never received a certificate of occupancy. Myers was applying for a "certificate of nonconformity" with the current zoning in order to be able to obtain the C.O. He said the site was no longer a gas station, but an automobile repair business.
Myers presented documents showing that the Zoning Board permitted the use in 1965 and the shop passed random safety checks by the Police and Fire divisions. The business was formerly called "Junior's Garage," he said, and Junior Simmons was still living there.
Board Attorney Peter A. Vignuolo said Myers had to prove that the use was allowed before a zoning change in 2002 to a Neighborhood Commercial zone. Myers had documents from 1997 to show the use was permitted.
The property will now be subject to improvements such as the planting of trees and shrubs and striping of the lot. Nierstedt told the board he will work with Myers to bring the site "up to today's standards."