Former cafe being transformed into apartments

  • (Lorrie Ross • Clay County Progress) Henry Brenner has had the former Yellow Jacket Café building for sale. Brenner requested a variance to convert the building into four apartments. There is currently one large apartment  downstairs. It will be made into two smaller ones and the upstairs will become two apartments.
    (Lorrie Ross • Clay County Progress) Henry Brenner has had the former Yellow Jacket Café building for sale. Brenner requested a variance to convert the building into four apartments. There is currently one large apartment downstairs. It will be made into two smaller ones and the upstairs will become two apartments.
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The former Yellow Jacket Café’s days of being a restaurant are likely over because the building will soon be home to four apartments. Hayesville’s Board of Adjustment granted a variance and a special use permit to building owner Henry Brenner during their regular meeting on Thursday, Nov. 14.

The building, located on the North Carolina Highway 69 roundabout near downtown, currently has one large apartment downstairs with restaurant space upstairs.

Board Chairwoman Sara Smith read the information. “Application #BOA4092. Brenner is applying for a special use, multi-family conversion of the former Yellow Jacket Café. The site consists of two parcels — a 1.12 acre parcel for the building and a .25 acre contiguous parcel for parking,” Smith read. “The proposal is to convert 2,400 square feet of open commercial area into four 600 square foot apartments.”

Smith said the variance is requested to eliminate the 50 feet of setback required. The street setback area for the existing building was lost when the Department of Transportation built the roundabout several years ago.

Brenner was sworn in and explained the reason for his application. He has decided not to rent to restaurateurs again and has attempted to sell the building for several years. In the meantime, the downstairs apartment has been consistently rented and he frequently receives inquiries about the apartment. He was told of the need for residential rentals and decided to convert the building into four long-term rental apartments.

Zoning director George Schaaf told the group letters had been sent to the nine contiguous neighbors. The zoning signs had been in place for the required amount of time with copies of the notice on the sign. “You cannot do anything if it is non-conforming so that has to be decided first,” Schaaf explained. “Mr. Brenner cannot do anything with the building other than having a restaurant the way it is now.”

Board member John Mazza asked if these types of variances may be done preemptively so the buildings impacted by road improvements would not all have to ask for a variance. Schaaf said the ordinance was written to prevent a big box store from being built.

Schaaf said the current zoning does allow multi-family residence and EMS confirmed they will have easy access to the building. There is also satisfactory ingress and egress for pedestrians and vehicles, along with suitable parking. Brenner will ensure all lighting is downcast, as required.

Board member Sandy Zimmerman said Small Town Main Street programs encourage having housing options in town or close to downtown.

The Hayesville Board of Adjustment voted unanimously to approve the variance. They also approved the special use permit for the apartments. He will probably start construction soon. Eventually, Brenner may build another rental property on the adjacent property, if allowed, but the site would have to be analyzed for appropriate space allotments.

The next Hayesville Board of Adjustment Meeting will be Thursday, Dec. 12.