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New UDF Closer to Reality in Taylor Mill

After years of discussions and battles at the city building, a new United Dairy Farmers location won multiple approvals at the Taylor Mill board of adjustment meeting this week.

Property owner Phil Peace has long sought to develop a UDF location at the northwest corner of Sawmill Drive and Pride Parkway. But the zoning designations created for the Downtown Taylor Mill district were not favorable to a gas station, instead focusing on projects that created a more urban environment and pedestrian-friendly access.

Peace, who eventually moved to Taylor Mill and successfully ran for a seat on the city commission, consistently argued that a second gas station in this part of the city would be beneficial, and that adding UDF would bring a fourth iconic Cincinnati brand to the DTM district. So far, the only new building in the district houses LaRosa's Pizza, Graeter's Ice Cream, and Skyline Chili locations, known as the "Trifecta".

Peace, architect John Lucas of K4 Architecture, and Tim Kling, director of real estate at UDF, attended the meeting.

The UDF project sought multiple variances, the first of which was a reduction in rear-yard setback from the required fifteen feet to five. The Planning & Development Services of Kenton County staff member who serves Taylor Mill, Andrew Videkovich, argued against the change, saying the current zoning requirement does not deprive UDF of reasonable use of the property.

A second variance sought by UDF was to reduce the required planting strip adjacent to a residential zone from the required from fifteen feet to five.

One solution proposed at the meeting was to move the UDF building forward but Kling said that would result in the front area limiting drivers who need to turn because there would be less room to maneuver.

Kling also discussed the possibility of installing a privacy fence, or doing without a bypass lane in the back as solutions. Ultimately, the two vairances were combined into one motion, which was approved, with the addition that deliveries will be prohibited at the site from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The board also approved a change in the sign regulations for the UDF project. The company sought a variance to allow its freestanding sign to be 45 square feet, more than the allowable 12. 

The sign will also have two changeable LED sections that will announce gas prices. Automatic changeable signs are prohibited under the zoning code, but Kling argued that gas stations are moving to this concept, and the board agreed that it would be a hardship to force UDF to change its prices manually.

One request that the board rejected was for UDF not to have to place a window, even a false window, on the rear delivery door. Zoning code mandates that such a window be places on that side of the building.

Peace argued that the Trifecta building has an entire side without windows and doors, but no one at the meeting knew the terms of that deal, so it could not be explained.

Because it would not be a hardship to the business, the window mandate remained.

Another request denied was UDF's desire to have three small signs on the canopy over its gas pumps, since it will be visible from three angles. The zoning code only allows two such signs.

Overall, Peace was pleased with the progress.

"I'm happy with the decisions made by the BOA," Peace said. "The BOA has a difficult task balancing PDS's interpretation of the zoning code, against real-world needs of site development. The BOA handled UDF's requests professionally and fairly, in my opinion."

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor