The Kent Board of Zoning Appeals gave a variance to the owners of the University Oaks apartment complex Monday to allow fewer parking spots for the complex than required by city code.
The zoning board voted unanimously to grant the variance, which allows the complex to have 540 parking spaces whereas city code requires 650 spaces based on the total number of bedrooms: 520.
Under city code, rooming houses are required to have 1.25 parking spaces for every bedroom — thus the requirement for 520 parking spots for each bedroom plus 130 for visitors.
The variance is one of two requirements for the complex, as the Kent Planning Commission will vote on the project's site plan tonight that includes plans for 155 off-site parking spaces on Horning Road.
In asking for the variance, Kent attorney John Flynn said the property owners, Alabama-based Capstone Real Estate Development, didn't want to create a sea of unneeded parking.
"They have provided plenty of parking for this," Flynn said.
The variance stemmed from the fact Capstone is asking the planning commission to grant the property , which would allow the developers to have more than two unrelated tenants in the 56, three-bedroom units at the complex.
Anderson Neighbors, the chief operating officer of Alabama-based Capstone Real Estate Investments, said their proposal is to limit the number of tenants at the complex to one per bedroom, including the one-bedroom units that are permitted to have a maximum of two unrelated tenants, if they are granted the rooming house status tonight by the planning commission.
"We acquiesced," Neighbors said. "We were willing to do that.”
Neighbors later conceded, after questioning from zoning board member Dave Mail, that they may not legally be able to tell two related people they cannot live together.
"I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know if you can actually impose that restriction," he said.
As a result, the zoning board included a stipulation in its approval of the parking variance regarding the number of tenants.
The zoning board approved the variance provided that the complex's "tenant-to-room ratio does not exceed a 1 to 1 ratio throughout the complex."
Kent's assistant law director Eric Fink said that limitation can be enforced in a courtroom.