Sometime late this spring, that is going to change, however. NAPA will move out east, building a new store at 105 S. Warren Drive, where it will be a couple of miles from the square.
But it will still find itself nestled "in between two banks -- again," second-generation NAPA owner/operator Bill Hamm smiled.
"It's a big change," Hamm assured after the Greencastle Board of Zoning Appeals approved a development standards variance that will reduce the buffer area required for the commercial property.
The new site is the lot once coveted as the proposed location for Huddle House, a Waffle House-type restaurant project that fell through. The property is sandwiched between North Salem State Bank and First Financial Bank on the east side of Warren Drive.
A proposed 6,000-square-foot building will have 21 parking spaces on the East Side of town. By comparison, the current NAPA location at Franklin and Vine streets has two spots under the overhang of what had been Roscoe Scott's Packard car dealership before Jack Hamm bought the building for his Greencastle Automotive Supply business.
That was in 1961, Bill Hamm said, noting that his father had started the auto parts business (better known as NAPA Auto Parts) in 1956 in the storefront at 3 E Franklin St. Local attorney Cheryl Danberry currently occupies that building, conspicuous with its red-shingled roofline just two storefronts east of the square.
"Fifty-six years ago everything was downtown," Hamm said. "Grocery stores, restaurants, car dealerships, everything."
Nowadays, however, the motoring public -- the very people who buy their own auto parts -- demands readily available parking spaces. NAPA has been routinely losing business to stores on the East Side, Hamm agreed, when potential customers haven't been able to find parking at or around the current building.
Hamm expects construction to begin yet this month, possibly as early as next week.
"We hope to open sometime in May," he added.
The BZA agreed to reduce buffer requirements on the NAPA site -- as it had previously for the adjacent North Salem State Bank property -- since the lots abut other commercial property and not residential areas.
Additionally, reducing plantings within the buffer was seen as assuring that sight issues would not develop for drivers entering and existing the parking lot. That is especially important, City Planner Shannon Norman noted, because of the presence of a leg of the People Pathways project.
Hamm's original petition had also requested a development standards variance for an increase in maximum sign height. That request, however, was withdrawn at the meeting.
The only other item on the April BZA agenda was a request from Crown Equipment Corp. for three development standards variances relevant to the new parking lot west of the building at 2600 State Road 240 East.
Crown unanimously received variances that allow it to:
-- Reduce the required size of parking spaces from 10 X 18 or 9 X 20 feet to 9 X 19 feet.
-- Reduce the required width of an interior driveway from 26 feet to 24 feet.
-- Increase the maximum height for parking lot lighting from 25 feet to 39 feet.
City Planner Norman recommended approval, noting that all the requests are confined to Crown's private parking area. She pointed out that the parking space size would be consistent will all other existing parking on site, while allowing the new lighting to be installed at a maximum height of 39 feet would make it compatible with existing lighting on the adjacent lot.
All three variances were approved after motions by BZA member John Phillips with seconds by Kathy Ferrand. Donnie Watson, who chaired the meeting in Jeff Sigworth's absence, made the votes unanimous.
Board members Sigworth and Paul Sanders were unavailable for the meeting, Norman noted. City Attorney Laurie Hardwick was also in attendance for the April session.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Greencastle Zoning Board is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 1 at City Hall.