Move by Bridgeport Board Allows for City Business to Continue Expansion, Keep Main Street Headquarters

By Jeff Toquinto on July 10, 2019 via

Roughly two years ago, Bridgeport business owner Darren Abraham went in front of the Bridgeport Planning Commission looking to have roughly 4.8 acres rezoned to Residential-3, which allows for multi-family homes including town homes and duplexes. It was one of two requests he made that day.
While one request was eventually approved by City Council, the rezoning request for the near 5 acres to be turned into R-3 never advance. Part of the reason was opposition from members of the community above his business – Abraham Linc.
More than one member of the Rosewood community voiced opposition to the move that proved critical in the failure for the rezoning.
On Monday, Abraham was back in front of the Planning Commission seeking to have the same property rezoned. This time, however, there were a few differences.
Abraham was seeking to have the property rezoned from Residential-1 (single family) to Business-2, which allows for large-scale commercial business. The other difference was also significant – no one was there to protest.
Because of that, Abraham’s request to rezone the property to B-2 was given a unanimous approval by the Commission. It will now move to Bridgeport City Council for approval, most likely at the July 22 meeting.
The rezoning will allow for Abraham’s company to continue the expansion of a parking lot that is currently under way and is the result of the 2017 rezoning. According to Abraham, to properly run the business in that location just off Main Street they need to have space for 20 trailers, three tractors, 10 delivery trucks and 10 personal vehicles.
The reason for the need for parking is the result of Abraham’s business expansion that has been in the works for the last year. Part of the existing parking lot will have a 20,000 to 25,000 facility that will connect to the main building.
“(What was done Monday) doesn’t facilitate any further growth, but what it does facilitate is allowing us to keep our headquarters here in Bridgeport, West Virginia,” said Abraham.
During the meeting, Bridgeport Community Development Director Andrea Kerr noted that she did not receive written concerns or phone calls voicing concerns from residents notified of the rezoning request. Members of the Commission on hand – Jolie Carter, Doug Gray and Rodney Kidd – did call on one member of the audience who had a question.
Lotus MacDowell, who runs The Shoppes of Averill Place below the area where the new parking lot facility will be in operation, didn’t oppose the idea. However, she was concerned about aesthetics at the site.
“The visual with my building is my concerns. When someone drives up and sees a whole bunch of 18 wheelers it’s not a very attractive site,” said MacDowell. “What I would like to see is up by the edge where the concrete is being poured, if we could put trees in there.”
Even that went without a hitch. Abraham said plans are already in the works to handle the view.
“We’ve already talked with the contractor and we’re looking at Norway Spruce, which is the one that won’t die around here. They will be on that bank because of that visual … We’re talking about the upkeep and we though the Norway Spruce would look great,” said Abraham.
The trees won’t go up immediately. Abraham said the planting season for the trees in question is late fall.
Abraham Linc is currently in the midst of a $1.5 million upgrade as mentioned above. The company, said Abraham, has operations in multiple states with the goal being to have 100 employees in the next five years.
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Darren Abraham, while Lotus MacDowell is shown in the bottom photo. In the middle picture is the Planning Commission members on hand Monday. From left are Jolie Carter, Doug Gray, Rodney Kidd and Bridgeport Community Development Director Andrea Kerr.

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