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Merrillville BZA approves adding U-Haul rental to storage business

Updated: August 29, 2013 7:46PM



MERRILLVILLE — The owner of 61st Avenue Storage received Board of Zoning Appeals approval last week to add U-Haul rentals to complement the personal storage business, with the stipulation that no trucks can be parked in front.

Councilman Richard Hardaway, D-2nd, said he originally supported the storage units in his ward, but would be against having any U-Haul trucks parked in front of the business at 850 E. 61st Ave.

“I’m against anything that creates an eyesore. Anything but the sign in front, I will oppose,” Hardaway said.

Owner Vicky Withers still needs to go before the Town Council at both a workshop session and regular meeting for final approval.

Withers told the BZA she would have no more than four trucks at a time parked in back and wanted two cargo trucks for display purposes in the front.

She said the business next to hers, Midwest Refrigeration, has five to six service vans parked in front of the business and couldn’t understand why she couldn’t have the two cargo trucks in front of her business.

BZA Attorney William Touchette said that business was located there before Merrillville became a town in 1971 and was grandfathered in.

“They have a right to park there. But if they ever stop operating there, they would lose that right,” Touchette said.

Withers also was told she couldn’t have a mobile sign advertising the U-Haul business, but could put it on her existing electronic message center.

Withers said the Midwest Refrigeration vehicles parked in front of the business are creating a visibility problem for her customers.

Hardaway said he and Withers will address the issue with the business owner.

“I agree with the lady and will address it,” he said.

In other matters, FD Merrillville Indiana Broadway Street LLC received variance approval to build a free-standing Family Dollar store at 5377 Broadway.

The owner asked for a variance to reduce the number of required parking spaces from 42 to 26 and to reduce the front yard setbacks on the corner lot.

Hardaway supported the project, pointing out the land has been vacant for 10 years, since a McDonald’s was torn down.

“I’m very pleased that something new is coming to that corner. If reducing the number of parking spaces is what it takes to get it built, I agree wholeheartedly,” the councilman said,

“This may be the shot in the arm needed to get other construction going in that area,” Hardaway added.

Ivy Israel, attorney for the petitioner, said Family Dollar’s parking model is about 25 spaces. She said the retailer’s customers are generally in the store only about 10 minutes.

Zoning director Dorinda Gregor said the Family Dollar store currently in the plaza across the street will move out once the new building is finished.

She said there still would be adequate parking for either an office or future retail at the site with the reduced number of spaces in the event the store should close.

Also, Judith Stevens received BZA approval to add pet boarding to her current dog daycare, pet grooming and training facility that she relocated to 8900 Mississippi St. a few weeks ago.

She said her Sittin Pretty facility was previously at 5151 81st Ave. in Hobart, but moved because she needed a larger facility.

She said she now has a 7,000-square-foot building, which would be expanded to include the kennel portion.

Stevens said she has 13 staff members, all certified as dog trainers or handlers.

She said the overnight boarding will be available 365 days a year, there will be a staff member present at night and all animals are kept indoors. There will be a fenced-in area for them to relieve themselves and for exercise.

She said the facility will be able to board up to 24 animals overnight.

Stevens also will have to go before the Town Council for final approval.



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