Whitehouse Approves Plan For S.R. 64 Commercial Building

AW Heating and Cooling owners Kyle and Renee Hertzfeld hold preliminary plans for a commercial building that will be constructed on S.R. 64 between Steve Rogers Ford and Sunoco in Whitehouse. The building will house the 27-year-old business and offer space for lease. The Whitehouse Planning Commission approved a preliminary plan for the project to move forward. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — When Kyle and Renee Hertzfeld first opened AW Heating and Cooling in 1997, they leased space in the old Whitehouse Grain building west of the village, eventually operating out of a pole barn on their Waterville Township property as the business grew.

With the Whitehouse Planning Commission’s approval of a preliminary site plan on April 1, the Hertzfelds now have their eyes on a new home for AW Heating and Cooling: 9910 Waterville Swanton Rd.

The 2-acre, commercially zoned property between the Sunoco gas station and Steve Rogers Ford is ideal for a planned 16,321-square-foot commercial building to house not just AW Heating and Cooling, but space that could also be leased out for office, small-business or restaurant use, Kyle said.

“We want to get in a visible area,” Kyle said.

The couple, doing business as 5-H Properties LLC, purchased the land for $125,500 from Josef and Vivian Keglewitsch in November 2017 and had a preliminary site plan approved by the Planning Commission in April 2018, but put the project on hold.

“It’s time for us to do something with the lot,” Renee said.

One of the stumbling blocks for the Hertzfelds was driveway access. The village’s zoning code doesn’t allow any additional curb cuts on the busy S.R. 64, which has a current traffic count of 11,000 vehicles a day, so the 2018 plan called for a shared driveway with Sunoco. The only problem was that the gas station’s new owner, Ridis, didn’t respond to requests to discuss any type of agreement to share a driveway, Kyle said.

Instead, the Hertzfelds’ engineer – John Sperry of Thomas DuBose and Associates – outlined the hazards of a shared driveway and the benefits of allowing a curb cut.

Planning Commission members Tom Lytle, Allen Kuck, Chuck Kethel and Dave Prueter, along with council member Dave Riggenbach and Mayor Rich Bingham, all agreed, although Kuck wanted to go on record in predicting, “It’s going to be a nightmare down the road.”

One of the concerns in both 2018 and now is about the impact another curb cut might have on traffic.

“Right now, stacking (of traffic on S.R. 64) isn’t an issue. The ultimate concern is 20 or 30 years from now when traffic increases,” said administrator Jordan Daugherty. “I’m supportive of this project, but down the road, there will be curb cuts on the other side of the road as well. It’s something that we’ll want to be solving.”

Kethel noted that without the ability to get the owners of Ridi’s Sunoco or the Caress Car Wash at the back to provide some type of access – which both denied – no project could move forward without a curb cut.

“How else can the property be used as it is?” Kethel asked.

The Planning Commis-sion members asked questions about drainage, landscaping, parking, the fire lane and access to a fire hydrant, all of which Sperry explained in detail. With the approval of the preliminary site plan, the Hertzfelds can have Sperry move forward with additional plans and prepare for an architectural review by the Planning Commission.

Kyle said he anticipates breaking ground by the end of the year, but the progress will be determined by the results of soil testing. 

When AW Heating and Cooling moves to the village, it will bring 16 employees, including Kyle, Renee and their three sons: Anthony Wayne graduates Austin, Blaine and Tyler. All employees will contribute to Whitehouse with a village income tax, Kyle noted.

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