A ruling made by the Planning Commission on Thursday will help clear the way for a three-person financial services business to acquire and operate out of the West Shore Assembly of God church building located at the intersection of Delaware and Woodward Avenues.
The commissioners followed the city administration’s recommendation and unanimously approved the request to permit AXA Advisors, LLC to operate in the residentially-zoned single-family high-density neighborhood across the street from Hayes Elementary School.
In reaching its decision, the commission determined that the change in land use met two major standards required by the zoning code. First, the business will be “more appropriate and compatible” with the neighborhood than the church. Second, it will reduce any traffic problems caused by the church.
Owner: business will be lower-profile operation than church
Business owner Michael Daso, who signed a purchase agreement for the property last month, told the commission his 11-year-old operation would have a smaller footprint than the church, which has a small congregation.
He has two employees and expects to hire four or five more over the next two years, including a junior partner within the next year.
In terms of traffic, Daso estimated he has four to six daytime client appointments each week, along with an occasional evening session or two.
He would not change the exterior of the building, but would reconfigure the interior to create an office space and an ADA accessible bathroom.
The Edgewater Dr. resident, who also owns properties on Mars and Madison Avenues, indicated he wants to add six to eight on-site parking spots to supplement the limited amount of off-street parking.
Daso said he looked at a half-dozen potential locations over the last six months before deciding to repurpose the church building. “It’s kind of a neat corner lot,” he said.
The property had been on the market for two years, most recently listed at $139,900.
Residents worried about parking issues
Noticeably absent from the proceedings were Ward 2 Councilperson Thomas Bullock and representatives of the West Shore Assembly of God.
Bullock typically skips this kind of an event, but it was curious that not a single member of the church congregation was present to speak in favor of the request, although its pastor did submit a letter.
A handful of residents who received meeting notices from the city showed up, and based on their pre-meeting chatter, had only a limited awareness of what was transpiring.
One resident voiced a concern about the need to keep curb parking available for parents picking up their children from school. Another resident felt there was ample street parking, and thought a new parking lot would “look terrible.”
Before the commission voted, Dru Siley, the assistant director of planning and development, reminded everyone the design of any future parking lot would be thoroughly reviewed by the Architectural Board of Review.
In other news, the commission approved a request to allow the newly expanded Pet Supplies Plus in the Lakewood City Center Shopping Plaza to offer dog-grooming services. A request from Bottoms Up Tavern on W. 117th St. for renewal of permission to use the front patio for outdoor dinning was denied because the applicant was not present.
On an unrelated note, some citizens making their way to City Hall for the Planning Commission meeting may have noticed an imposing armada of Lakewood police cars led by an armored SWAT vehicle cruise southbound on Alameda Avenue, across Franklin Boulevard.
They executed a search warrant in Cleveland near Triskett Road and W. 140th Street. A male was arrested for drug trafficking and a Lakewood animal control officer was called to the scene to impound two pit bulls.