Gyms get OK to open despite noise concerns

DOWNEY - Despite city staff concerns over potential noise impacts, the Downey Planning Commission approved a pair of new exercise venues in typically commercial property zones last Wednesday. Commissioners granted both Jesus Cerecer of Bellflower and Raymond Gonzalez of Downey a conditional use permit to open and operate a zumba fitness dance studio and physical fitness training center in Downey respectively.

Cerecer proposed to locate his zumba studio in a 1,740-sq.-ft. tenant space across from Amapola Market at 7444 Florence Ave., just east of Old River School Road.

The proposed business hours will be Monday through Saturday, 8 - 10 a.m., Monday through Friday, 6 - 9 p.m., and closed on Sunday. Each session is slated to last an hour for a total of five sessions per day, except for two on Saturday. According to the city staff report, the fitness dance area will not have electronic or stationery exercise equipment.

Likewise, Gonzalez's proposed physical fitness center will not be a standard gym with weight machines and cardio equipment, but a training center offering one-hour group sessions of calisthenics and military-style exercises for 10-14 customers per session.

The center, which is proposed to operate 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, will occupy a 2,117-sq.-ft. tenant space at 12143 Paramount Blvd. However, staff expressed concerns with both exercise venues as each location is in close proximity to other businesses and residential homes. Most notably, city staff worries about potential noise disturbances that could be caused by groups working out or music playing inside the facilities.

In order to mitigate noise impacts, the city is requiring both businesses to keep doors closed during the permitted hours of operation and Cerecer has been asked to provide sound barrier walls along any shared interior walls between neighboring tenants.

The planning commission also approved a request made by property owner Catherine Zarrabi for valet parking, smaller parking stalls, and tandem parking at the site of her 13,370 sq.-ft. rectangular-shaped parcel, which sits on the northeast corner of Fontana Street and Downey Avenue. Currently, a 4,295-sq.-ft. multi-tenant building resides on the property.

In order to accommodate a chiropractic office along with other professional offices, Zarrabi is hoping to garner enough parking for customers by reconfiguring the parking lot offering free valet parking services.

The current layout of the parking lot does not allow for on-site vehicle circulation and promotes encroachment of parked vehicles in the alley immediately to the east of the property, according to the staff report.

Zarrabi will be granted a conditional use permit, which allows for tandem parking and undersized parking so long as there is an attendant present. The valet will be on the premises during normal business hours in a designated area for passenger loading and unloading.

Commissioners, however, did deny one proposed resolution last week submitted by Jim Simington of Eco Sign Inc. on behalf of Downey Memorial Church located at 8441 Florence Ave., just west of Brookshire Avenue.

Simington requested a variance to construct a new monument sign that would exceed the maximum allowable square footage, increasing the maximum sign area from 20 sq. ft. to 42 sq. ft.

The staff report also indicates that the variance would allow the sign to encroach into the required seven foot front yard setback from the property line.

City planners believe the extra one foot and seven inches of distance from the proposed sign to the front of the property line could infringe upon the line of sight for motorists exiting the church parking lot and those traveling westbound on Florence Avenue.

The commission denied the variance citing safety hazards and municipal code violations, but suggested the existing monument sign be refurbished to meet the applicant's needs without encroaching on the property line.

********** Published: November 15, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 31