Proposal: Auto dealer to add service garage

Patrick Fitzpatrick, owner of Wholesale Auto in Princeton, is closer to getting the city of Princeton’s approval to construct an accessory building on his business, located along Rum River Drive North near Northern Attitudes Bar & Grill.

The city council introduced an ordinance last Thursday for possible approval at its Oct. 11 meeting. The ordinance would allow automobile and recreational sales and service through a conditional use permit (CUP) in the B-2 neighborhood commercial zoning district.

Fitzpatrick has been working on getting that approval for some months, along with seeking approval of variances to construct a 30’x64’ building he would like to have on his property that faces Sixth Avenue North and Fifth Street North.

Rory Clayson, of 509 6th Ave. N., stated at the June 18 planning commission meeting that he would welcome Fitzpatrick’s proposed building, reasoning that it would be a buffer against noise from Rum River Drive.

But amending the ordinance to allow the expansion of Wholesale Auto through the construction of an additional building, is a “difficult decision,” Princeton city  economic development director and zoning administrator Carie Fuhrman told the council.

Fuhrman explained that the city amended its zoning ordinance in 2010 to comply with changes in the city’s 2008 updated comp plan. The amending of the ordinance removed the allowance of automobile and recreational sales and service businesses as a CUP in the B-2 district. Fitzpatrick was able to keep his business there but he was told he could not expand it anymore in that location.

The city’s new comp plan added the B-2 neighborhood commercial district to provide areas for “limited commercial, office, and services uses adjacent to residential areas.” The purpose was to serve as a transition between general commercial and residential areas. The uses were limited to mostly provide goods and services to surrounding residential districts. Additional requirements were added to ensure buildings were designed with similar scale and design elements as neighboring residential structures. The kind of structures the comp plan talked about as typical included small convenience centers and offices.

The planning commission, as a result of Fitzpatrick’s requests for adding an accessory building, recommended an ordinance amendment, the one that the council last Thursday introduced for possible passage.

Fuhrman wrote in a memo to the council that is should only consider this ordinance amendment if it finds that the “amendment meets the intent and provisions of the comprehensive plan, specifically the neighborhood commercial provisions, and the zoning ordinance, specifically the B-2 zoning district.”

When it “comes to long-range planning and zoning decisions,” Fuhrman also said, “this is where the rubber meets the road.”