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North Hills

Baierl Automotive alters plans for new parking lot to address residents' stormwater worries

Tony LaRussa
| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, 3:21 p.m.

Baierl Automotive Group has agreed to reduce the amount of land it wants to rezone behind its dealership along Perry Highway so the parking lot it wants to build is farther away from residential properties.

The change is significant enough that town officials have scheduled a second public hearing on the project for Oct. 22 and will vote the same night on whether to approve the requested zoning change.

The first public hearing was conducted in July.

Baierl is seeking to rezone a pair of properties along Little Meadow Road from their current R-2, or two-family residential zoning, to C-3, which is a Commercial Highway District.

The two properties — one of which is already owned by Baierl — are surrounded by the dealership’s parking lots.

The owner of the other property, Brian Smith, supports the zoning change.

He said the property, which has a home where his elderly mother used to live, would be too difficult to sell because of its close proximity to the dealership. He plans to use the proceeds from the sale of the property to pay for his mother’s care in an out-of-state care facility.

The Smith home and a home on the Bairl property will be demolished to make way for the parking lot.

Residents along Little Meadow Road, which is at a lower elevation than the Baierl dealership, have raised concerns that the additional parking lot will increase stormwater runoff onto their properties.

The new request reduces by 100 feet the amount of land that would be rezoned. That portion of the property is where an old, unkempt detention pond is located.

To determine how much the parking lot would affect the ability to control stormwater, Baierl agreed to a request from neighbors that a full stormwater analysis be conducted, said Bruce Betty, the town’s planning director.

“Doing the complete stormwater study is a little bit out of the ordinary,” Betty said, adding that such a study is typically conducted when the site plans come up for review.

He said the town supported doing the study “because it can impact our entire stormwater system.”

The current condition of the detention pond makes it useless for controlling runoff.

“The detention pond is overgrown and holding mosquitoes,” Betty said. “It needs to be completely redone.”

The vehicle dealership’s owners have agreed to make the detention pond, which holds stormwater so it can drain slowly into the earth, functional again and to perform regular maintenance.

“When we do rezoning in an area that’s this close to residential homes, we are responsible to those landowners,” said Christina McKaveney-Malkin, a lawyer representing Baierl Automotive Group.

“We’d like to use our property as we’re permitted to use it. But we do have to be respectful of the fact that we have neighbors.”

Baierl also has agreed that the parking lot it builds will be unlighted — a concern raised by residents who didn’t like the idea of having bright lights shining through their windows.

Baierl also will limit noise generated by the parking lot by agreeing not to install loudspeakers and forbidding trucks to unload vehicles after hours.

The company will limit the hours of operation for the lot to between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368 or tlarussa@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

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