In the fifth hour of its meeting Monday evening, the Planning Commission — sitting as the Board of Adjustment — denied a parking variance requested by Dollar General in West Laramie.
The national company has a location planned on a property near the intersection of Colorado Avenue and Snowy Range Road. Per the city’s Unified Development Code, the store’s square footage would require the lot to accommodate 45 off-street parking spaces.
Daniel Hayes, civil engineer with Inberg-Miller Engineers working on the building design for Dollar General, said 45 spaces “won’t fit on the site, period.”
City staff said with some administrative modifications, they are able to lower the required amount of parking to 36 spaces. The company, however, wanted to pursue the variance for 30.
“The problem with doing that additional six spaces, there is room on the site, but what we’re running into is that’s going to increase our impermeable surface, meaning we need more drainage area to hold the storm water,” Hayes said during the meeting. “We may not have room on the site for those additional six spaces and to meet the city’s detention requirements.”
City staff recommended the Board of Adjustment not approve a variance for parking, as there were other ways to remediate the parking issue. For example, UniWyo Federal Credit Union owns the land where the Dollar General will be constructed as well as the land surrounding it, and the property lines could be adjusted to fit the spaces and necessary drainage.
Dollar General provided some statistics for similar stores in New Jersey to indicate 30 spaces would be sufficient to accommodate the store’s patrons. The report showed stores seeing about 142 transactions per day by vehicle and about 10 vehicles per hour.
However, Associate Planner Matthew Cox said city staff “did not believe that this was sufficient enough data for us to go off of for this variance.”
“We were looking more for rush hour times, possibly,” Cox said during the late-night meeting. “This is the only market with what Dollar General has to offer. … This would be the first one in West Laramie and so we don’t know how busy it would get.”
Laramie City Councilman Bryan Shuster, council liaison to the board, wondered if there were any compromises that could be drawn to help support business growth.
“I’m very business-oriented,” Shuster said during the time for public comment. “Can they fit 32 (spaces)? Can we bump the number up to where it pleases both groups?”
While many of the board members were sympathetic to the business and excited to see it serve West Laramie, they had trouble fulfilling the statutory requirements to award a variance, including whether denying it would deprive the applicant of reasonable use of the land or whether granting the variance would negatively affect other users in the area.
The Board of Adjustment ultimately voted 5-1, with one abstention, to deny the variance for 30 spaces. Board member Roth voted “no” on the motion, and member Marc Homer abstained.
City staff told the board members the applicant is still eligible to lower the space amount to 36 spaces with the administrative modifications.