City council on Monday retroactively approved a special-use permit for a CrossFit gym to open in a Newark industrial park.
Hardbat CrossFit opened in March at 1325 Old Cooch’s Bridge Road. It uses 9,000 square feet of a large warehouse owned by the HVAC company Sobieski.
“I’m super excited to be in the area,” owner Derek Batman said. “We currently have clients from every single one of the business on our road.”
The gym has 120 members ranging in age from 5 to 70 and works with interns from the University of Delaware’s strength and conditioning program, he added.
The gym is the first business to take advantage of a recently passed law that allows for a broader range of uses in industrial parks.
While industrial parks still include manufacturing uses, they increasingly are becoming seen as places for other types of businesses, such as professional services, breweries and indoor recreation facilities, Planning Director Mary Ellen Gray explained last month.
“Acknowledging this trend warrants a review and update to our zoning code for industrial uses to include these additional uses,” Gray said.
Under the new law, recreation facilities like gyms need council approval for a special-use permit. In an unusual set of circumstances, the planning department allowed Hardbat Crossfit to operate under a temporary permit for nine months before coming to council.
City planner Mike Fortner said the department issued the temporary permit because the business had already signed a lease, and the department was waiting for the zoning change to work its way through the legislative process. Had council rejected the law or denied the special-use permit, the business would have been forced to close.
Council approved the permit, but Councilman Chris Hamilton took issue with the planning department’s decision to allow the business to open before council could weigh in and before the property’s neighbors were notified.
“I’m not comfortable, as a council person, with the way that was done,” Hamilton said.