The Altoona Planning Commission this week approved a land use plan for an O’Reilly Auto Parts store on an exterior parcel of Chestnut Plaza in Logantown.
The commission waived a landscaping requirement against the building.
Foundation landscaping would interfere with operations around the store, due to sidewalks designed to provide safe passage from the parking lot, entrances and loading areas, according to Mike Jeitner, director of Bohler, consulting engineer for the project.
There would be additional vegetation elsewhere to compensate for the lack of foundation plantings, according to a memo from Bohler.
The commission refused to waive a requirement for bike racks, despite Bohler’s arguments.
The racks would be superfluous, said Jeitner and another representative for Bohler, who appeared via Zoom.
The city’s land use ordinance requires one bike rack for every 10 motor vehicle parking spaces, and with 28 of them, three racks would be required, according to the memo.
It’s unlikely anyone would cycle to a store to buy parts for a car, Jeitner told the board.
Besides, “the majority of the pieces for sale are not easily transported by bicycle”, specifies the note.
The council curbed that.
What if someone’s car isn’t working and they’re going to the bike shop to get a part to fix it? asked commissioner Larry Bilotto.
“I was thinking the same thing,” said President Dave Albright.
There will be room on site for someone to put a bike down, even without a bike rack, replied one of Bohler’s representatives.
And such a case would be rare, he added.
Bike racks aren’t usually associated with O’Reilly stores, he said.
“I know it doesn’t look like an auto parts store.” said Albright.
But engineers probably wouldn’t “Making this argument with a straight face” whether they were designing a restaurant or a convenience store, Albright said.
Additionally, emphasizing bike racks supports the plan’s overall goal of encouraging bicycle traffic — as well as pedestrian traffic — Albright said.
The store will be close to the Penn State Altoona campuses, and many students ride bicycles, Albright added.
“Bike racks are one of those things that we feel we need to apply across the board,” he said.
The store will be located on First Street in what is now the grassy area to the left of the curved entrance along that thoroughfare.
The Mirror’s staff writer, William Kibler, is at 814-949-7038.