BRUNSWICK — The owners of Honey Hut ice cream parlor on Pearl Road plan to be open this season, despite a ruling from the city’s Planning Commission that they won’t be able to use their gravel, overflow parking lot.
“We still plan to open in mid-March if everything goes well,” said Jim Rosati, the owner of the Honey Hut chain of stores.
The Brunswick store is the fifth location for the Cleveland-area chain and the first outside of Cuyahoga County. The store opened in 2013, and the chain’s popularity was evident by a crowded parking lot throughout the 2013 season.
Before construction started, Rosati said he initially wanted to put 30 spaces on the one-acre former mini-golf lot. He said those plans were reduced by the Planning Commission.
“They said we could only have 23 spaces,” he said. “Obviously we need more, especially on busy nights.”
To accommodate the flood of traffic, Rosati opened up a gravel area at the back of his main paved lot to account for the overflow. He said his decision was motivated by safety concerns for motorists who were parking across the street at St. Ambrose Church and crossing Pearl Road with their young children.
“It was a safety concern,” he said.
But the gravel lot wasn’t approved by the Planning Commission, and when Rosati appeared before the board in the fall, members found his gravel lot to be in violation of city building codes. Rosati met again with the commission in January and asked members to grant him an exception to the code.
They didn’t agree that Rosati met the criteria for an exemption and asked him to either pave it or remove the gravel, said Santo Incorvaia, Brunswick’s assistant law director and legal counsel for the Planning Commission.
“Gravel lots are generally not permitted,” he said. “They are permitted in certain instances like a section of a car lot intended for vehicle storage.”
Incorvaia said other gravel lots remain in Brunswick because they were developed before the current building and zoning code rules were enacted. He said the board found in January that Rosati’s request didn’t meet the criteria for an exception to the paved lot rule.
But Rosati said it’s going to be hard for him to pave the lot before opening, and said he may have to get rid of the gravel lot before opening in March.
“We’re exploring our options and looking at what we can do,” he said.
Rosati said he doesn’t need the gravel lot on most nights, but during the peak season when a few baseball teams come for ice cream, the lot fills up fast.
“We’re not trying to set a precedent; we’re just trying to accommodate everyone on a busy night,” he said.
Rosati said he hopes to come back to the board in late summer or early fall with a solution to the parking problem, but hopes customers will be patient and safe in the meantime.
“I want people to be able to come in, but I worry about them crossing Pearl Road,” he said.
Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.