OHNA Letter for 349 S. Laurel

From the Oregon Hill Neighborhood Association:

Ms. Lory Markham
Planning Department
City of Richmond

Dear Ms. Markham,

At the April 24, 2012 meeting of the Oregon Hill Neighborhood Association (OHNA), we considered the Special Use Permit requested by Nolen Blackwood for 349 South Laurel Street. The neighborhood association voted to support the Special Use Permit with the following two stipulations that were agreed upon by the applicant:

1). Only one dwelling unit would be permitted on the property in addition to the business use of the first floor of the building.
2). No alcohol sales would be permitted on the property

Mr. Blackwood is requesting the Special Use Permit to allow a retail/commercial use on the first floor of the building. Historically, there was a storefront on the first floor of 349 S. Laurel, and this use would be in keeping with the historical function of the building. Corner storefronts were a common feature of 19th century neighborhoods, such as Oregon Hill, and OHNA has encouraged the use of these storefronts by neighborhood-friendly businesses.

The building at 349 S. Laurel Street has limited parking, other than a two car garage on the property that will be dedicated to the one residential unit above the commercial space. Although adequate parking is of great concern in the Oregon Hill neighborhood, in voting to support the Special Use Permit, we considered the special nature of the business proposed as the tenant of the first floor of the building. A bicycle shop is the proposed tenant, and it would, to some extent, cater to clientele traveling by bicycle. A bicycle store at this location should encourage more bicycle transportation in the neighborhood. We note that the proprietors of the proposed bicycle shop live only a half block away, on the 400 block of S. Laurel, so minimal staff parking will be required. Furthermore, by agreeing to the stipulation that there will be only one dwelling unit permitted on the property, the owner has reduced the possibility that a large number of occupants would have vehicles.

Thank you for your consideration of the comments of OHNA concerning the proposed Special Use Permit at 349 S. Laurel Street. We would encourage you to approve the Special Use Permit and to permanently incorporate the two agreed upon stipulations above into the Special Use Permit.

Jennifer Hancock
OHNA, President
April 25, 2012