Frattalone’s Ace Hardware is asking the city of Andover for permission to keep displaying landscaping and gardening materials in an area of a parking lot like it has for the last decade.
Frattalone’s Ace Hardware is located in the Downtown Center shopping area on the northeast corner of Bunker Lake and Round Lake boulevards. Andover Community Development Director David Carlberg said the business was able to add a garden center in the spring of 2002 because of a special use permit granted to the whole shopping center in 1988.
However, Carlberg said the site plan approval approved in 2002 did not allow any retail goods or landscaping materials to be stored outside the fenced garden center. The pallets now being stored on the north side of the store also must be moved inside the fenced area.
Mike Frattalone, business owner, requested a text amendment to the city code that would allow outdoor display, storage and sales in any shopping center-zoned districts in the city during all hours of the day. This text amendment would, therefore, affect the entire Downtown Center as well as Clocktower Commons and Hanson Commons on the east side of Hanson Boulevard and north of Crosstown Boulevard.
The city code currently only allows goods to be outdoors in the shopping center districts during operational hours if a conditional use permit is obtained. Business owners in the general business and industrial zoning districts can obtain conditional use permits to store their goods outside 24/7, so the change Frattalone is proposing would allow overnight storage.
“If the code is not changed, Frattalone’s will experience an extreme drop in sales and our customers from the Andover area will be forced to shop inconveniently,” Frattalone wrote in a letter to the city. “This is a major issue for us and we know that we had the city’s permission to sell and overnight store our goods outside since the day we opened.”
If a text amendment is approved, Carlberg said Frattalone and anyone else requesting outdoor display, storage or sales would need a conditional use permit, which requires a public hearing.
Carlberg said he informed Frattalone that there may be some other steps he needs to take if he is granted a conditional use permit such as screening his dumpsters.
“There’s no guarantees if he gets the text amendment that he can do what he’s doing today,” Carlberg said.
A text amendment to the city code also requires a public hearing at an Andover Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. This will take place Feb. 12. The council will consider this matter at its Feb. 19 meeting.
The council discussed the proposed text amendment late Tuesday evening (Jan. 22) at a workshop meeting.
According to Carlberg, if Frattalone was allowed to keep displaying and storing material in the parking lot, then he would have to go through a “proof of parking” study.
Councilmember Julie Trude believes there should be enough parking spaces. She was not a fan of the outdoor storage though.
“I thought it was just a temporary staging area,” she said.
Councilmember Sheri Bukkila likes having the equipment for rent displayed outside. She said that has drawn her into the store.
Carlberg said Frattalone likes the setup of having the materials outside because customers can drive up to the garden center with their vehicles and load their purchased goods.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org