Tipp Council denies development of alleyway for outdoor dining


By Blythe Alspaugh

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TIPP CITY — A motion to utilize the public right-of-way along the alleyway of the Benkin Building as an outdoor dining area failed at Tipp City Council’s Monday meeting following concerns raised by citizens.

Jim McKee, who has lived in downtown Tipp City for 24 years, expressed his excitement over the development of the Benkin Building into a pizzeria, but was not partial to the development of the alleyway to be used as an outdoor dining area, given the close proximity of the area to his home. According to McKee, the property sits approximately 25 feet from the front of his home’s carriage house.

“Having lived downtown all those years, walking by Coldwater Cafe’s outside dining, you’d hear a gentle murmur — that’s about it. (With) the new establishment, I doubt it’s going to be quiet with the offering of pizza, beer, arcade games. I think that would lend itself to quite a bit of noise,” McKee said.

Other concerns McKee had included a potential increase of trash around the area if the pizzeria planned to go into the building utilized paper napkins, plates and cups, a lack of parking around the building that could spill onto the side streets, and an increase of traffic in the alley parallel to Main Street.

According to City Manager Tim Eggleston, the motion was a similar agreement to the one the city currently has with Coldwater Cafe, located at 19 E. Main St. in downtown. McKee pointed out that Coldwater Cafe doesn’t have residential properties in close proximity to the business.

Michael Graham, who is a neighbor to McKee and lives directly across from the Benkin Building, expressed similar concerns. While he said he isn’t opposed to the development of the building and alley and thinks that the business would be great for downtown Tipp City, he felt that it was counterintuitive to approve development of the alley before the business was open to the public.

“I think it’s kind of putting the cart ahead of the horse (…) getting this established before this business is even in business. They aren’t even there yet. We don’t know who they are,” Graham said.

Both McKee and Graham also brought up concerns regarding traffic in the alley; while it is unrelated to the development of the alley, both men noted witnessing often that cars will speed out of the alley and have come close to hitting pedestrians, and that the buildings around it offer little visibility driving through. McKee suggested potentially putting a stop sign in place at the end of the alley.

The motion ultimately failed in a 3-2-2 vote, with Mayor Mike McFarland and Councilmember Joanna Pittenger voting against the motion and Council President Kathryn Huffman and Councilmember Ryan Liddy abstaining from the vote.

“Listening to the gentlemen who came and spoke, I had to abstain from the vote. It does seem like there is a concern as far as what’s happening in the alleyway currently, regardless of whatever happens with the licensing,” Liddy said. “Passing cars and speeding cars — you’re putting citizens at risk. I think that’s something the developers would also be wary of.”

Liddy added that the alleyway traffic concerns regarding speeding was something that council should look into in the future and see if something could be done.

Council approved the following items at Monday’s meeting:

• An ordinance levying special assessments for the construction of curbs, gutters, sidewalks and driveway approaches in conjunction with the 2021 Sidewalk Improvement Project within the City of Tipp City was unanimously approved;

• A resolution authorizing Eggleston to sign and execute an agreement between Upper Valley Medical Center and the City of Tipp City for the donation of $250,000 for upgrades for the Tippecanoe Family Aquatic Center was unanimously approved;

• A motion to appoint Mayor McFarland as a representative to the OMEA board for one year term ending Dec. 31, 2022 was approved in a 6-1-0 vote, with McFarland abstaining;

• A motion granting attendance awards to full-time employees who worked the entire calendar year and who used 8 hours or less of sick leave in 2021 was unanimously approved; and

• A motion approving the Tree Board’s 2022 Annual Plan was approved in a 6-1 vote, with Councilmember Robert Schwab voting against the motion.

The next meeting of Tipp City Council will be held Monday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m.

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