Developer Andrew Petzold made his case to the Mequon Plan Commission for a third restaurant at a strip mall now under construction on North Port Washington Road., persuading commissioners to allow a TCBY store in addition to the previously approved Taco Bell and Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches.
The addition of the TCBY, which sells frozen yogurt, sundaes, smoothies, beverages and other frozen treats, could cause a parking crunch at the site.
There are 75 parking spaces and using the city's estimates for parking, the three eateries need 78 spaces. Community Development staff recommended the commission deny the conditional use permit Petzold needed for the restaurant, but the commission decided to ignore the recommendation.
There are four vacant, yet-to-be-leased spaces remaining in the 12,000 square foot building. Assistant Community Development Director Jac Zader said that permitted uses for the remaining spaces include professional offices, retail space or salons. Restaurants are conditional permitted uses and require Plan Commission approval. Permitted uses do not require a Plan Commission review and approval.
Petzold argued that more than 50 percent of customers pick up their food rather than eat at restaurants and because of that, less parking is needed.
Commissioner David Romoser said he is concerned that staff and commission may be applying outdated zoning standards for parking to contemporary conditions. Zader said the standards were last updated late in the 1990s.
Romoser said that customers won't stop if they see a congested parking lot, causing a loss of business. Businesses would then either leave at the end of their leases or ask for reduced rents, which might force changes in the future.
"The market will work here if we let it," he said.
Although Petzold felt TCBY is not a restaurant in the strict sense of the word since there is no cooking or food preparation, he agreed to limit the building to no more than 5,219 square feet of restaurant use as a condition of approval for TCBY. That includes the space for Taco Bell, Jimmy John's and TCBY.
Petzold said he would bring only permitted uses, such as professional services or retail, to the city for the remaining tenant sites and would work with staff on parking issues, making sure that the businesses have varying peak times when they have their greatest need for parking.
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