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Parking at New Courthouse Reduced Again

Parking spaces cut from 144 required by code to 109

For the second time, a request to reduce parking at the new Kent courthouse was approved by the Kent Board of Zoning Appeals Monday.

The zoning board voted unanimously to approve a variance that allows the project to move ahead with 109 parking spaces — 34 fewer than the 144 required by city code for that size a project.

Architect Allan Renzi of Richard L. Bowen & Associates in Cleveland, the firm designing the building for Portage County, said the variance request stemmed from a recommendation by the Kent Architecture Review to move the building further back from East Main Street so it was more in line with its neighbors, the and salon buildings.

"In doing so, because the site is so limited in size, we lost a row of parking," he said.

Renzi said the city code calculates parking requirements in part based on total square footage of a building, but a large portion of the new courthouse will be ancillary space that's not occupied by employees or visitors.

Using Renzi's figures, zoning board member Steve Balazs calculated that the building may only have a max occupancy of 106 people at one time with 60 seats in the main courtroom, 20 seats in the magistrate's courtroom and 26 employees.

"If everybody drove a car, you still would be under," Balazs said. "You’ve got a parking deck that’s adjacent to this as well.”

The zoning board voted earlier this summer to grant a variance request that reduced parking by 12 spaces.

Bridget Susel, Kent's grants administrator, said city staff were comfortable with the 109 parking spaces.

"The administration has been working with the county commissioners and judges for a long time, and one of the issues had been parking," Susel said. "Even though it is being moved down to 109 the administration recognizes the reasons behind it. It’s still going to bring 109 spaces to the downtown area when the court is not in session. One hundred and nine spaces is still a substantial amount of spots downtown."

The project still has to go to the Kent Planning Commission tonight for site plan approval. The Kent Architecture Review Board voted Aug. 7 to issue a certificate of appropriateness and recommended the planning commission approve the site plan.

Zoning board member Paul Sellman said it's unlikely the court would ever experience an overflow situation with parking.

"If you have a few, you still have other parking nearby," he said.

Brian August 21, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Kent's code needs to be changed relative to the calculation for the required number of parking spaces.
Allan Orashan August 21, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Now that the site plan has been modified, still Portage County judges are making a very unfortunate long term mistake if they keep the entrance at the south east corner of the courthouse as shown by this rendering. The architectural review board only approved the site plan but wanted the entrance situated at the center-front of the building as has been voiced by many citizens. That includes the Record Courier, calling the corner entrance "weird." One source said the judges and county commissioners reconsidered this. Is that true?
Frederick John Kluth August 21, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Even weirder is the lack of provision for inclement weather and what seems a total disregard for the needs of the handicapped. There should be a real porch and real columns. Those token columns suggest token justice or perhaps a facade of justice. They built a Bau House courthouse in Ravenna and the city lived to rue its decision. I am already looking to the next courthouse so this can be turned in to the factory that it looks like.
Chris (Kit) Myers August 21, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Per my letter in this morning's R-C you can see that I agree with the "factory" resemblance.

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