To be in compliance with town ordinances as they are, the Chocolate Moose/Brown County Coffee business going into the old Taco Bell building downtown would need more than a dozen new parking spaces that it doesn’t have on the property.
But if that block was added to the Village District, the business wouldn’t be required to provide a set number of parking spaces.
Nashville’s town manager has proposed that the downtown Village District be expanded to include an additional block. But business owners in that block have mixed feelings about whether or not they want to be included.
Scott Rudd asked the council May 19 to extend the district one block south, to take in the area bounded by Pat Reilly Drive, South Jefferson Street, South Van Buren Street and West Washington Street.
Currently, the district’s south boundary is Washington Street on the west side of Van Buren, but on the east side, the boundary already extends a block further, to Schoolhouse Lane.
The businesses that area would take in are the old Taco Bell building, the BP station, Olde Magnolia House Inn/4th Sister Vintage and the former Family Fun Center (now the Nashville Christian Church’s Lifehouse).
Rudd said the chief difference in being in the Village District or out of it is parking space requirements — a certain number based on square footage of the building.
Nancy Crocker, owner of the inn and vintage shop, said she’s been wanting to become part of the Village District so she could more easily participate in special designations like Arts Village Brown County.
Steve and Vicki Payne, owners of the BP station, said they weren’t sure if they wanted to be in the Village District or not, but they didn’t think it was fair to change the rules to favor a new business.
If the Paynes wouldn’t have been subject to the parking space requirements when they built their business 16 years ago, Steve Payne said they might have built a bigger building.
“I don’t care what kind if business goes in over there, just as long as we’re playing on an even field,” he said. “If it’s Chocolate Moose and Brown County Coffee, that’s fine, but I don’t think we need to make exceptions and make two wrongs to try to make a right out of it just to get an establishment going.”
Payne and council member David Rudd placed blame on planning and zoning for not noticing that the parking spaces weren’t adequate, according to town ordinance. Construction at the building has been going on for months.
However, Zoning Admninistrator Chris Ritzmann did notify the town in February with concerns about the lack of parking: “I am concerned that the owner is improving the building without filing for a variance or persuading the town to extend the Village District,” she emailed Scott Rudd and Brown County Building Commissioner Lonnie Farlee Feb. 10.
Scott Rudd told the meeting audience that other options besides extending the Village District exist for the new restaurant owners — who are renting the building — to comply. They or the building owner could lease the required number of parking spaces to comply with the ordinance, or they could ask for a variance from planning and zoning.
Andrew Tilton, who operates a parking lot across Van Buren, said he’s received inquiries about leasing parking spots. Zoning board member Jane Gore said she hadn’t received any inquiry about a variance.
Scott Rudd said regardless of who owns the building now, not being able to meet the parking space requirement is going to have an effect on any future business at the site, too.
The council didn’t make a decision, but the topic is expected to be discussed again at the next regular meeting, at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 21 at Town Hall.