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STAFF PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER Joshua Sewald of Dynamic Engineering makes a presentation Thursday about preliminary plans to locate an Aldi’s grocery store in Eaton Township.

The Eaton Township Zoning Hearing Board gave its okay last Thursday night to three variances requested by the design firm representing Aldi’s which is interested in constructing a grocery store in the old WalMart parking lot.

Attorney Tim Michaels who is solicitor for the township zoning board acknowledged that the meeting had been duly advertised, and both sides - including attorney Tom Davis representing Aldi’s interests - nodded in agreement.

Joshua Sewald, principal of Dynamic Engineering, laid out the plans for a 19,054 square foot facility that would be sited at 809 Hunter Highway on 1.96 acres on the west side of Rt. 29 between the traffic light and the Wyoming County Human Services Building.

Aldi’s application sought three variances from section 404.3 concerning development standards of the Eaton Twp.-Monroe Twp. zoning ordinance.

The variances sought were to an increase to the permitted lot coverage in non-residential areas, a decrease to minimum parking setbacks to property lines, and a decrease to minimum drive aisle setbacks from property lines.

Sewald explained that the retail use would not have a negative impact on the land that is mostly now a parking lot and a difference of two percent was negligible as Aldi’s plan called for an underground stormwater basin for runoff, and that more green space would be added.

Sewald also noted that the decrease in minimum parking setback from property lines was because Aldi’s desired to have 91 parking spaces where as the township code - based on square footage of the building - only required 63 spaces.

He also noted that drive aisle setbacks would be negligible with really only three parking spaces in one corner of the parking area affected.

Lance Montross, William Faux, and John Yablonski comprised the zoning hearing board, and they had questions mostly about traffic and stormwater drainage.

Before they went to deliberate, Eaton Township Supervisor Randy Ehrenzeller who sat in the audience during the hearing said he personally considered the three variances quite minimal, and believed the backers of Aldi had a well thought out plan and he hoped the ZHB would come back with a positive response.

The three ZHB members reentered the township meeting hall and promptly took a vote on the three variances. The first and third passed unanimously but Faux suggested he had more of a concern about the 5-foot setback and voted ‘no’ on it. However the other two voted yes, and the measures to grant the variances cleared.

Rory Garr, director of real estate for Aldi’s, did not make any sort of formal presentation during the hearing, but when asked after the decision about a timetable said that wasn’t easy to establish.

“I expect we’re looking at early 2019,” Garr said.

The next step will be a conditional use permit hearing from the Eaton Township supervisors, and that has to happen within two months after Aldi’s submits the paperwork showing the variances had been addressed.

Garr said he was expecting more hearings after that, and the actual construction would probably take 4-6 months.