In a special meeting on Feb. 3, Chagrin Falls Village Council voted 6-1 to reverse the Board of Zoning Appeals’ unanimous decision and denied a variance for a barbershop.

Village zoning prohibits retail and service businesses in office buildings without an approved variance.

Councilman Andrew Rockey, representative to the appeals board, said he voted for the barber shop as a BZA member but with the new information would vote against it as a council member.

He explained when the BZA vote was taken, verbal information presented indicated a similar retail service business had occupied the space many years before.

But when that earlier occupancy permit was found it was for an office use, he said explaining that the tenant was a cosmetics company, not a retail service business such as a beauty salon.

Council’s decision came with some comfort for building owner Lawrence Shibley.

Rather than usurp current zoning, which does not allow that type of retail service business in office buildings, council asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to look at amending the code to include this use in a building surrounded by retail uses.

Mr. Shibley told council he would likely lose the barber shop tenant in the wait for the planning commission to act, but Councilwoman Nancy Rogoff, representative to the commission, said she would present the consideration at the Feb. 17 meeting.

She said with the information council provided, planners should not take long to make their recommendation.

Mr. Shibley said office space has been difficult to rent since the pandemic took hold and more people are working from home.

The 200-square-foot space he hoped to rent to the barber was inexpensive, filled a need and had so far been received well by other building tenants.

Councilman Darren Wyville said he found himself “caught between compassion for the building owner during hard times and the need of help and the need to maintain our zoning.” He ultimately voted to allow the barber shop use.

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