WARSAW — One special exception request was denied during the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals meeting held tonight, June 24.
Shawn Bianchini, 702 S. Union St., requested a special exception to permit a home occupation in an R-2 zoning district. According to Bianchini, the occupation would consist of a catering service, called Shawnanigans, operated from a small commissary kitchen in the petitioner’s detached garage.
“This is primarily so that I can continue to start up my business and grow my business within a kitchen space that is my own,” said Bianchini during the meeting. He explained that he typically caters approximately one event a week and currently uses kitchen space at the nearby Chicago Dog House. He hoped that the exception would only be temporary, for one to two years, until he moved his business into a bigger space.
Senior Planner Justin Taylor explained that the neighborhood immediately surrounding Bianchini’s home is primarily single-family residential.
“The catering business is a husband and wife team that does not have additional employees,” said Taylor. “The petitioner has stated that no clients will be coming to the house and that deliveries will be made with a key drop system so there will be no exterior evidence that he is operating at this location. The petitioner hopes to grow his business and eventually relocate to a more ideal location.”
Based on this information, Taylor told the board that it is the opinion of the planning department that this case could be viewed favorably.
Neighbor Amy Thompson, who resides at 708 S. Union St., attended the meeting in opposition to the request. She stated that she was concerned about child safety due to increased traffic near a school and other possible safety issues.
Bryan Bibler, who resides at 705 S. Union St., was unable to attend the meeting but sent in a letter of opposition.
“I commend this gentleman for wanting to achieve the American dream but feel this will start out slow and acceptable but then with hard constant work, this may grow beyond his expectations,” read the letter. “If this zoning exception is granted, I believe it will greatly affect the demographics of our neighborhood, maybe not immediately, but it will have an increasing negative effect on this struggling area in our community.”
After public comment, Board President Tom Allen noted that the board has historically never approved a special exception for a home occupation in an R-2 zoning district.
“It is in an R-2 and that’s probably, as I mentioned in my opening comments, my biggest concern is that you are in a way establishing a commercial entity inside a residential zone. Just for the audience, we’ve never approved one before,” said Allen. “That’s why, in all fairness, we are struggling with this. While we’d love to see you succeed, we also have to be aware of the fact that where you happen to be located is within a restricted residential area.”
Based on all the information presented, the board unanimously voted to deny the special exception.