Commission approves parking on Erie Street

Douglas M. Kafury

Kent Planning Commission approved employee parking on East Erie Street.

The commission unanimously voted to approve business owner Tony Lahood’s request for employee parking on East Erie Street for Firefly, a new coffee shop. The shop will occupy the commercial unit at 124 S. Water St., which was formerly occupied by Butcher Boy Meats.

Parking on East Erie Street is limited to two-hour increments. Kent City Police Department recommended this parking plan for Firefly employees to avoid parking fines.

Carla Bachtel, mother of the owner of Animals Unlimited at 120 S. Water St., questioned this parking change. She said by allowing Firefly’s employees to park on East Erie Street, there would be less customer parking for Animals Unlimited.

The parking limitations would affect business because it would be inconvenient for customers to carry out heavy pet products and walk a longer distance, Bachtel said.

She also said she was happy a new storefront would be coming downtown, but she didn’t want it to be at the expense of her daughter’s business. There wasn’t a problem when Butcher Boy Meats occupied the unit because people would be in and out of the store quickly.

“I don’t know if that’s true with a coffee shop,” Bachtel said.

Since Animals Unlimited operates from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Firefly will open at 5 p.m., William Anderson, vice chairman of the planning commission, said the two-hour overlap in operating hours was not sufficient enough to deny Lahood’s request.

The commission also discussed drafting an amendment to the Kent City Charter. The amendment would allow for an alternate member to serve if another member is absent. Planning commission chairman Matthew Van Note said the alternate member would need to have experience in the field. He said he hopes to have the amendment on the ballot in November.

Contact public affairs reporter Douglas M. Kafury at [email protected].