Owners of Dickey Bub Farm and Home Monday night asked the Rolla City Council to loosen up restrictions on outdoor storage and displays for the new store at Forum Plaza shopping center.
No action was taken, but the mood of the council and administration indicated the city is open to allowing the relaxing of conditions stipulated in a rezoning ordinance passed a year ago.
In April 2016, the council approved a rezoning that made the building a highway commercial district, or C-3, but set some conditions, primarily that outdoor merchandising be limited to the parking lot on the south side of the building and on the walk immediately adjacent to the building on the west side.
"As Dickey Bub finalized a lease and completed the renovations, they realized additional area was needed for outdoor storage," City Administrator John Butz told the council in the agenda commentary. "Dickey Bub has confirmed sufficient parking but is requesting additional flexibility for limited outdoor and seasonal materials."
Councilman Matthew Crowell, representing Ward 2, asked why it was not reported to the council last year that more outdoor storage room would be needed.
"Why did we not know it then?" Crowell asked.
Butz said that the applicant for rezoning last year was not Dickey Bub but Super Market Developers, the owner of the shopping center, and they were not aware of the full merchandising needs of the farm and home store.
The developing company was eager to get the rezoning that would allow the outdoor storage and display of merchandise to secure a signature on the lease by the owners of Dickey Bub.
Dickey Bub owners Steve Dickey and Carrie Dickey spoke to the council and they confirmed that at the time, a year ago, they were not directly involved in the rezoning request because they didn't own the property or have a lease for it. Moreover, they were dealing with severe flooding of other properties.
Responding to questions, they described the seasonal merchandising and the use of additional parts of the parking lot along 10th Street and on the west side of the parking lot, across the space from the building.
They said the outdoor storage would be heaviest from May to October, and they also said the parking lot would be redesigned and re-striped for at least 160 parking spaces.
Carrie described other cities' regulations as having more to do with the timeline and with height restrictions. Steve said a 6-foot restriction is acceptable, because few pallets of merchandise would be that tall and could easily be re-stacked to fit the maximum height.
Butz said the staff has no opposition to the flexibility, although a height restriction of 6 feet was recommended to maintain visibility for the entire shopping center. He added that neither Super Market Developers nor Price Chopper oppose the additional flexibility for Dickey Bub.
Changes in the ordinance will be written to allow the additional use of the lot, including the height restriction, and presented at the next meeting.
A year ago, Dickey Bub was in negotiations with shopping center owner Super Market Developers, and it was the owner that asked for the rezoning of the old Country Mart store and the parking lot in front of it from C-1 and C-2 to C-3.
C- 1 is neighborhood business district rezoning and C-2 is general retail district zoning. C--3 is highway commercial district zoning.
That change was sought so Super Market Developers could assure Dickey Bub that merchandise such as gardening soil and fence posts, as well as power equipment, could be stored and displayed outside, allowable in C-3 zoning but not in C-1 or C-2.
The Planning and  Zoning Commission recommended the change to the council, and on March 21, 2016, the council held a public hearing and heard first reading of the ordinance to change the zoning.
At that time, Community Planning Director John Petersen told the council the area under consideration was 4.56 acres and it included 191 parking spaces, 31 more than legally required.
Joel Riggs, representing Super Market Developers told the council at that hearing a year ago that Dickey Bub was ready to sign a lease and would as soon as they could legally use the 24 parking spaces on the south side of the building next to 10th Street. The exterior sales area would be fenced, he said, and no other parking spaces would be used.
He agreed to a stipulation in the ordinance that exterior use would be limited to the the area on the south side of the building.
It was also reported Dickey Bub Farm and Home wanted to have outdoor sales under the sidewalk canopy on the west side, or front, of the store.
At the April 4, 2016, meeting,  the council heard the final reading and passed the ordinance that changed the zoning, but added the conditions that no fewer than 160 parking spaces be maintained for the store and the outdoor merchandise be limited to the south side between the building and the street and adjacent to the west side of the building, which is the front. The vote was 11-0, with one councilman absent.
Councilmen Monday night did not say their ward constituents complained, but they said some local residents had questioned the amount and location of outdoor storage and display.
Dickey Bub’s takes storage woes to Rolla City Council