City Council refuses to change downtown parking ordinances

City Council refuses to change downtown parking ordinances by David Lias It appears that a Vermillion man�s plans to convert the former Sears building in the city�s downtown business district won�t be occurring.

The Vermillion City Council refused Monday to modify the area and parking requirements in this zone of the city that would have made the building development possible.

Todd Osborn of Vermillion wishes to remodel the large, vacant brick structure and locate a business in its basement, a restaurant on its main floor, and convert the remaining building space into seven apartments.

To make that possible, he sought to have the parking ordinance changed to allow off premises parking in the city�s B-2 central business district, and eliminate minimum yard and lot area restrictions.

Mayor Bill Radigan noted that motorists who visit downtown Vermillion often like to park near the establishment where they are doing business.

�Are we saying we are going to have to go down the middle of downtown and take down a building and satisfy this problem?� he asked.

Farel Christensen, city building inspector, said there are areas in the downtown area that could provide parking relief, such as empty property that currently exists north of the old National Guard Armory. More space could be provided by tearing down some of downtown�s older, obsolete buildings, he said, such as the city�s old police department building.

�There�s not a whole lot of spaces to be had, and that�s why it kind of makes me think that if we make that downtown space more valuable now, those spaces will become unavailable for us and kind of crimp our future development,� Christensen said.

Osborn said he has two potential options for parking that he was pursuing for the building: one is the leasing of area in a nearby bank�s parking lot and the other is utilizing the empty lot near the old National Guard armory.

�We definitely have a problem in downtown Vermillion for opportunity because of parking, but I really think that should be separate of development,� Osborn said. �I really believe change should happen now. I really think we have addressed the parking issue; we have the best possible development to control the occupancy. To go ahead and stop change which I think is the best opportunity for that building is really unfair to the people of Vermillion and for the opportunity of growth in Vermillion.�

Young Moore, Paul Hasse and other citizens told the council they preferred that parking regulations not change because of potential problems that would occur.

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