Ice cream shop gets OK, plans for spring 2012

The Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously approved an application Tuesday night that paves the way to demolish a former tavern and construct an ice cream shop..

Jimmy Biniaris, owner of Piece of Cake Frozen Specialties, told the board he plans to open the ice cream shop by spring 2012. Half of the store would include 13 freezer doors to store items for pick up from his manufacturing facility across the street, with the other half serving as an ice cream shop, he said. All production would remain at the facility across the street at 62 W. Inman Ave., which serves hotels and banquet facilities but also is “retail legal.” Three neighbors spoke in favor of the application.

A few aspects of the application mentioned last night were slightly different from what was reported here last month: there will be no indoor seating area, only a service counter area, and there were 11 parking spaces proposed (not nine as previously reported) but 12 are still required, making a variance necessary. Other variances sought were a use “d” variance for a nonconforming use and bulk “c” variances for front yard setback and maximum impervious coverage.

Decker’s Tavern operated for 66 years at the corner of Jaques and West Inman avenues until it closed in 2006 and also was a nonconforming use. Planner Nicholas Sottoes argued that the site is at the edge of the R-2 zone, is more influenced by an adjacent industrial zone, and the proposed residential-retail combination is more consistent with the two-family homes in the area.

Board members had some questions about street parking and traffic. Decker’s had but eight parking spaces while 20 spaces were required considering it had seating for 20 and about 15 bar stools, according to Sottoes, who added that four street parking spaces (one on Jaques, three on West Inman) could be used as well.

Craig Peregry, a planner hired by the applicant, seemed to allay board member concerns about a potential for increased traffic at the four-way stop intersection and street parking. Current volume at the intersection is very low, and low speed, with about 200 vehicles per hour, he said. Trip generation projections at peak hours — weekday evening and Saturday midday — indicated about 14 in and out of the site per hour while the state considers a “significant increase” to be 100+ trips per hour. “The traffic impact is a wash versus the previous use,” Peregry said.

More details about the application, which includes an apartment on the second floor, can be found in this previous post.