AURORA – Several months from now the community could have a new Volunteers of America retail store ready to serve residents.

At its Feb. 5 meeting, the planning commission accepted for study a preliminary site plan for a one-story, 25,400-square-foot VOA thrift store on a 3.5-acre parcel on the north side of West Garfield Road, just west of Ganley Chevrolet. The site is zoned C-2 commercial.

Since 1983, the VOA has operated out of a former bar and restaurant on the southwest corner of North Aurora Road and Moneta Avenue, across from the former Geauga Lake Park ballroom.

The VOA was founded in 1896 by Ballington and Maud Booth. The organization responds to the needs of the homeless, families, veterans, men and women returning from prison and the elderly through comprehensive employment, housing and behavioral health services.

In addition to the Aurora location, the VOA operates northern Ohio thrift stores in North Olmsted, Brunswick and Mansfield. The existing Aurora site also houses a food pantry, which will continue to operate out of the Geauga Lake neighborhood building.

Bob Bajko of Cleveland-based HSB Architects explained the VOA has a purchase agreement in the works for the acreage, and the new location would be owned by the organization. The current location is leased.

He said everything being proposed is in compliance with the city’s zoning regulations, and VOA officials believe the new site "will accommodate the needs of the community."

Merchandise would be displayed in most of the building, with about 2,000 square feet reserved as a processing area. There would be a drive-through, staffed drop-off area on the east side of the building for people wishing to donate items, which would be protected by a canopy.

Bajko said the location likely would be open most days until 9 p.m., and there would be nothing stored or no trucks parked outside.

Planning-Zoning-Building Director Denise Januska said the planning department recommends that only one curb cut from West Garfield Road onto and out of the parcel be allowed. She said the site could eventually interconnect with North Bissell Road depending on future development of a parcel to the west of the VOA parcel.

City Engineer Justin Czekaj said aligning the curb cut with that to the Fifth Third Bank property across the street might allow for better traffic flow to the two properties.

The city’s planning staff recommends that a portion of the parking area be land-banked. A lot split, wetlands delineation, improvement and lighting plans and a traffic study are required to be completed prior to final site plan approval.

The proposed building was the only item on the planning panel’s agenda, but several items remain pending before the commission.

Among them are site plans for a 15,000-square-foot addition at Robeck on Lena Drive, a 4,800-square-foot addition for Milo LLC-Workshop Wire Cut & Machine on Francis D. Kenneth Drive, a 175,000-square-foot building for Wellsville Carpet Town-Ashley Furniture on Lena Drive and Pulte Homes’ Renaissance Park subdivision north of Treat Road.

Also being considered by the panel are a conditional zoning certificate for residential units between the Barrington Swim Club/tennis courts and the Atrium at Anna Maria and a wetlands setback variance for parking at ILPEA Industries at Danner and Lena drives.

The planning panel’s next regularly scheduled meeting is Feb. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall.

Contact the newspaper at 330-541-9433, or auroraadvocate@recordpub.com