Commission OKs public hearing on comprehensive plan change
Bar owner seeks changes for expansion, more and safer parking

By Joe VanDeLaarschot

May 12, 2019

 Expansion and remodeling plans are ongoing at the Pleasant Hill Bar and Grill at the intersection of Highway 64 and Pleasant Hill Road Thursday in Richfield.
Joe VanDeLaarschot/Daily News Staff

RICHFIELD — The Plan Commission has approved holding a public hearing on June 20 about a request for a change in the village’s comprehensive plan that will allow construction of a new parking area and expansion of the Pleasant Hill Bar and Grill.

The bar, formerly known as the Hairy Lemon, is now owned by Pleasant Hill Management which is owned by John Loosen. Two small adjacent properties will be involved in the overall development plan. One is 0.18 acres, the other 0.25 acres. Last month the Village Board granted permission to join the two lots into one single one along with the bar property. Village Administrator Jim Healy said in order for Loosen’s project to move ahead, he needs to change the future land use designation for some of the property.

Loosen’s petition is the fourth step in a multi-step process for redeveloping the establishment. The property is just north of the approximately one-acre restaurant lot at 2102 Highway 164. In September, Loosen received approval of the new business’s plan of operation from the commission.

A home that once stood on the property to the north was recently demolished after a permit was obtained from the Building Inspection Department. The former structure’s building pad has been graded in preparation for construction of the new concrete parking area. The expansion will provide an additional 75 parking stalls, far more than would be required. “The intent with removing that structure was to create additional space for a future building expansion which he is planning on submitting in June,” said Healy. “His plan would call for an expansion that would nearly double the size of the current building, using the ordinance adopted by the Village Board several years back to allow for the expansion of legal, non-conforming buildings.”

Healy said the building has existed for a very long time, it presently does not comply with setbacks and is very close to the road, both Pleasant Hill and Highway 164.

“So the fact that the state is cheating the road over approximately 30 feet to the west will help. Parking there has historically been an issue,” Healy said.

Healy said the property currently has an access point on Highway 164, but Pleasant Hill Management has worked with the state Department of Transportation to modify his access point 400 feet from the intersection of Pleasant Hill Road and Highway 164 for safety purposes.

“Currently there are instances where customers park on the north and south side of Pleasant Hill Road, which creates a single lane of traffic exiting onto Highway 164,” Healy said. “If the property owner creates the additional parking on his property, it is anticipated that this potential safety hazard will be remedied.”

Healy said Loosen, through previous projects, has been a great community partner. He said one thing Loosen wanted to do when he came to the village with his idea to purchase the business was to improve the safety of this intersection.

“He is going to the village’s Architectural Review Board next Wednesday with a proposal to effectively double the size of the building,” Healy said. “Right now there is a handful of tables in there and the kitchen is quite small. He hopes to serve more people and have a more efficient working space.”