Plans for proposed bar & grill for West Franklin Street denied by Board of Zoning Appeals

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Proposed plans for a new bar and grill on West Franklin Street in Evansville have been denied.

A move that shocked many people in the crowd that were supportive of the project.

Evansville bar owner Kerry Chesser submitted plans for "Franklinsteins" in June.

When those plans were met with questions and harsh criticism from those against the project, Chesser says he drastically downsized the project to try and please everyone.

In the past three meetings where these plans have been presented, board members have voted 3-3.

When there's a tie vote, the proposed plans can be brought up at the next Board of Zoning Appeals meeting.

"We tried all we could.  We had the support of the community.  And they still denied it," explains Chesser.

The Board of Zoning Appeals voted 4-3 Thursday night against a parking variance which would have allowed the business to open at 2124 West Franklin Street.

The current building has sat vacant since 2007, according to Chesser's attorney Chris Wischer.

The plans submitted during Thursday's Board of Zoning Appeals meeting called for 78 parking spaces, and another 15 spots as part of a shared parking agreement.  According to Wischer, the amount of parking spots required for a building of this size is 118 spots.  Wischer says with the 93 secured spots for the bar and grill, the owner would have fulfilled 79% of the requirement for parking.

Similar parking variances have been granted to other Franklin Street business owners.

Attorney Chris Wischer explained during the meeting that no other Franklin Street business, which has been granted a parking variance, exceeds 79% of required parking for their business.

But still board members denied the proposal and left several people stunned.

"I hate to speculate on things like that, but you all were in the room.  You all saw the facts and figures.  It's really hard to deny that maybe something else isn't going on when you see those facts.  It was clear as day," explained Amy Word-Smith, the President of the Franklin Street Events Association and owner of two local businesses.

"We put a lot of work into this project," explained Kerry Chesser.

"We've tried to work with the community, we had their support, I just think there's more to it.  I think it's political."

Chesser explained the project would encompass a $1.5 million investment and employ over 40 people.

If Chesser wants the plans presented again, his team will have to wait a year to do so.

Attorney Chris Wischer explained Chesser can appeal the board's decision and take the matter to a judge.

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