Oregon to consider allowing food truck in Shrine parking lot

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Council will consider a Special Use Exception (SUE) in an R-5 Condo-Residential District for the purpose of operating a business out of a food truck in the parking lot of 635 S. Coy Road, where Our Lady of Toledo Shrine is located.
        Delana Ball, owner of Sabaidee Coffee and Crepes in Tiffin, is the applicant.
        James Gilmore, commissioner of building and zoning, said the food truck would be located at the rear of the parking lot of the property close to the entrance.        
        Rules governing food trucks in the city state that an organization, such as a church, school or business, can use a food truck for patrons at a festival. But if the food truck is in competition with a brick and mortar store selling directly to the public, the food truck would need a conditional use in a C-2 zoning. Since the property is in an R-5 Condo Residential zone, a special use would be needed for the food truck to operate at that location, according to Gilmore.
        “We have no zoning that allows the public to sample food trucks,” Gilmore told The Press last week.
        The Oregon Planning Commission on June 21 recommended that the request be approved by council.
        Mayor Mike Seferian, a member of the planning commission, said food trucks have been controversial in the city for some time. Food trucks compete against brick and mortar stores that have made a large investment in the community. Food trucks’ investments in a community, by comparison, are much smaller.
        Scott Winckowski, chairman of the planning commission, asked if council was working on legislation governing food trucks.
        Seferian said it was difficult to draft legislation that states what is to be accomplished and that it was hard to put into words.
        “We are feeling it out,” he said. “We have always said we will kind of let it go if we can get by without any complaints. I know it does not sound very professional, but we only chose to do it this way because we could not come up with something better. So we are trying to feel our way through and possibly come up with language or legislation or something. When we looked around at different communities, we did not find something we would consider really good. It sounds like it might be easy to put something down, but it is difficult.”
Well received
        Ball said she has owned Sabaidee Coffee and Crepes in Tiffin since 2014.
        “It is doing well. It is very well received in my community,” she said. “They love me. Even through COVID-19, I am surviving. It is because I have people that come from Toledo. I have people that come from Columbus. I have people that come from all over the state, just to my restaurant. They love the atmosphere. They love the friendliness. They know they get more than just a cup of coffee. They are loved up. They know it and they love my product. I pay a lot of money for my product, so it better be good. I have always wanted to come and expand here into Oregon. I approached the spiritual center because they have a very, very large property.  It is not being used really, and they want people to know that they are there. So obviously, they are on board.”
        Ball said she met with Seferian, City Administrator Mike Beasley and Sommer Vriezelaar, executive director of the Oregon Economic Development Foundation, to discuss the matter.
        “They want me to come. I have gotten a lot of support,” she said.
        “I want you to know that I am very community minded,” she added. “I purchase things in the community. I hire people from the community, and I treat them like family.”
        Rick Orovitz, a member of the planning commission, asked Ball what was keeping her from starting a restaurant in Oregon.
        Ball said there was nothing preventing her from doing so. But since she already owns the food truck, she would like to feel out the environment before sinking another $100,000 to start another sit-down restaurant.
        Ball said the food truck will be open five to six days a week from 6:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. year-round.
        Gilmore said the application was only for Ball’s food truck on that particular parcel. The food truck cannot move anywhere in the city, just on the property on Coy Road.
        Ball said she plans on leaving the truck at that location permanently.
        Gilmore said he did not believe there was any other SUEs for food trucks in Oregon at this time.
Support from shrine
        Chris Rocher, who is on the board of trustees for the Toledo Shrine, said after much discussion with Ball, as well as sending members to Tiffin to try out the product and getting a favorable response, it was decided to allow her to put the food truck on their property. He said the Toledo Shrine has been at that location for over 25 years and attracts people from all over.
        “It would provide hospitality to visitors and offer them a place to eat and drink,” he said.
        There was some opposition as well.
        Stacey Bohland, who has lived directly to the north of the parking lot for 28 years, said Coy Road is very busy. She is concerned that the food truck might increase traffic in the area. There is also a school bus stop in the Shrine parking lot. She did not think it would be safe for kids who are waiting there early in the morning.
        Richard Stanley, who lives in Bayberry Creek Condominiums, said his front porch faces the parking lot. He is concerned about additional traffic as well as additional trash going into a nearby ditch.
        Others came forward to object as well.
        Public Service Director Paul Roman said Coy Road and Navarre Avenue is a dangerous intersection. The city received a safety grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation to improve the intersection. Plans call for dedicated right turns and a median – 500 feet east and west on Navarre. It will be a major upgrade and will significantly improve Coy Road.
        In light of the concerns expressed by some nearby neighbors, the planning commission voted 4-1 to accept the SUE for a term of one year. Should council approve of the SUE, the matter will be reviewed again on September 1, 2021.            
Rogers Lane
        City council will also consider a zoning change from C-2 General Commercial District to R-2 Medium Density Residential District on a parcel at 2189 Rogers Lane at a public hearing on July 27. The owner/applicant is Thomas Saunders.
        The adjacent properties around the rear are all R-2. There would be very little impact to the surrounding neighborhood if the zoning were changed, said Gilmore.
        The property is currently being used as single family, which makes it a non-conforming use in a C-2 zone. The owner wants the zoning change because a bank will not approve of a loan to rebuild the house should it ever be destroyed, since it is not an approved use.
        “The question is, can you rebuild your house on property that is zoned commercial? No you cannot,” Gilmore said to The Press last week. “The bank does not want to lend on a house that cannot be replaced.”
        He said there are similarly non-conforming properties in Oregon that will eventually become commercial.
        “Once the useful life of that house is gone, we hope commercial or industrial would take its place,” he said.
        Saunders told the planning commission he has lived on the property for 22 years. He was not aware that the property was zoned C-2. He believed the house, built in 1958, before Oregon became a city, had been zoned C-2 since then. When Saunders sold the property, the buyers were planning on getting a non-conventional FHA loan. Unfortunately, the bank would not provide that particular loan unless the property is zoned R-2.
        The planning commission voted unanimously to recommend to city council that the zoning change request be approved.


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