11 25 NB Plann 1 N Whittaker

A rendering of the proposed new look for the building at 1 North Whittaker St. in New Buffalo.

NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo Planning Commission approved a site plan for a proposed restaurant at 1 North Whittaker St. during a Nov. 16 special meeting.

According to a staff report from City Building Officials Ted Hanson, the proposed site plan for the building at 1 North Whittaker in the Central Business District (which currently is home to a pharmacy but otherwise vacant) calls for it to be renovated for several future tenants including a restaurant.

The request was made by property owner Damon Marano of Chicago, and presented by local architect William McCollum, who also is a member of the Planning Commission but recused himself from the 4-0 approval vote.

An earlier site plan for the building included moving some exterior walls for an expanded outdoor seating area partially on city property, but the new proposal keeps the perimeter of the structure where it is while adding a series of windows “all the way around” to let light in and improve its appearance.

McCollum said a portion of the existing stone veneer will be retained, “but most of it will go away.” He later said the drive-through for the pharmacy also will remain in place.

McCollum said the restaurant will take up 50 percent of the first floor (in addition to a pair of retail spaces and the pharmacy stating where it is with no changes), and another seating area in the basement area for the restaurant and a prep kitchen have been added to the site plan.

The addition of more seating requires 12 additional parking spaces, and McCollum said they are proposing those be located in the 90-space parking lot across U.S. 12 that has been included in previous site plans such as the Beer Church. Another option was to pave a nearby vacant area.

Planners noted that since they have allowed other businesses to meet parking requirements using the lot across U.S. 12 it wouldn’t be fair to deny that for the 1 North Whittaker St. property.

McCollum later said more information on the restaurant will be released at a later date, but added that there will be barbecue.

Also on Nov. 16, the Planning Commission agreed to recommend changing the zoning of a single-family home property at 6 South Willard St. from General Commercial to R-1 Single-Family Residential

The zoning change request from property owners Tricia and Adam Bowden noted that their is in an R-1 neighborhood.

Tricia noted during a Nov. 16 public hearing on the request that four generations of her family have lived in the home since it was built in 1926 and she plans to be there for the rest of her life. She added that there is a small salon in the house, but it takes up less than 100 square feet and the small number of clients aren’t disruptive to the neighborhood.

And Planning Commission Chairman Paul Billingslea was re-elected to that post near the conclusion of the special meeting.

City Manager Darwin Watson noted that a joint meeting of the commission and City Council was slated for Nov. 18 to kick off the process of reviewing and updating the Zoning Ordinance. He said the process includes the Planning Commission dealing with a recommendation and the City Council granting final approval.

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