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Zoning board to consider parking variance again

Staff Report //May 7, 2018//

Zoning board to consider parking variance again

Staff Report //May 7, 2018//

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A proposed parking variance for a Backstreets Grill location on Devine Street will be considered for the third time by Columbia’s Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday.

The board deferred the variance requested by Cason Development Group at its March and April meetings.

Frank Cason said he’s confident that his development group has the necessary agreements in place to secure a parking agreement for the restaurant.

“The Devine Street merchants association is highly supportive of this proposal,” Cason said. “They recognized Devine Street, like North Main and the Vista, all want more services because activity breeds activity. Everybody can agree there’s a need for more family-friendly, mid-level price range restaurants on that side of town.”

Along with a requested variance, Cason said the group asked for a special exception at the suggestion of the zoning administrator.

Backstreets Grill, based in Hickory, N.C., wants to open a second location at 3006 Devine St., a 4,500-square-foot former office building. A city ordinance requires eight parking places per 1,000 square feet, totaling 36 spaces. The requested variance would allow four parking spaces per 1,000 square feet, making the current 18 spaces available acceptable.

In April, Cason presented a plan to the board that featured secured leases with three other locations off-site for patron parking, upping the total number of spaces to 49. The off-site parking locations are the Acupuncture Clinic, Sadler Insurance and Riverside Community Church.

Board member Calhoun McMeekin said he was not comfortable agreeing to the variance without having the leases run the full term of Cason’s agreement with the restaurant, which is seven years.

Representatives from groups in the Shandon area brought concerns before the board that included the number of restaurants currently in that block of Devine Street, a potential increase in noise and crime from the proposed restaurant and the saturation of cars and pedestrians that already exists in the area.

“We’ve heard the concerns and met with a number of people,” Cason said. “We have made a number of changes and concessions. We believe what we have in place now is more than enough to accommodate the parking needs. Backstreets is a great fit for the market and a great addition to the neighborhood.”