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City committee votes to recommend expanded commercial zone

After hearing from two West Third Street property owners on the proposed expansion of the central business district in that area, members of the city’s Economic Revitalization Committee agreed to amending the original ordinance to include properties on both sides of the street. The original ordinance included properties from Hepburn Street west to Center Street, but only on the south side of West Third Street.

With the proposed change, the zone would be extended to include the north and south sides of West Third Street. The new section of the zone would run along Hepburn south to Second Street, west on Second to Center Street, then north on Center Street to Center Place and then east on Center Place to Elmira Street.

Eric Winters, who owns several properties on the north side, including Farrington Place, noted that the area is zoned for commercial service, which is a warehousing, manufacturing and service zone.

“It definitely serves its purpose, but I don’t feel the (commercial service) zone is the applicable zone for that area,” he told the committee. He added there are no warehousing or manufacturing businesses in that area.

Winters said most of the businesses on the north side of West Third, including his own, already are non-conforming and are operating due to variances to the current zoning, but if that were to be changed to central business district, they would be conforming.

“The CBD zone is precisely made for retail, restaurants, small shops and attorneys’ offices,” Winters said. “I think it would benefit the growth of the neighborhood,” he said of the possible change to include the north side of the street in the proposed ordinance.

“We have a great neighborhood on both sides of the streets. There are investors here that took massive risks,” he added.

Another property owner from that area, Enrique Castillo, who was present at the meeting, said he was in agreement with Winters about the need to include the north side of the street in the ordinance.

Committee member Liz Miele agreed that both sides of the street should be included.

“I think that you are right that there are multiple CBD-style uses,” said Miele.

One issue that the committee raised is the amount of parking in that section.

“When we move to expand the CDB, we don’t increase the amount of parking, we only decrease the amount of requirements,” Miele said. She added that property owners should not expect the city to provide any more parking resources in that neighborhood right now.

“We’re looking to decrease parking requirements across most of our zones here in the new year, simply because we have some pretty onerous parking requirements that aren’t really related to modern day usage,” Miele said.

“What we’re saying is that if there is a parking crunch there, we can’t necessarily alleviate it. We can expand the CBD but we’re not in the position to put up a parking deck or anything like that,” she added.

Members of the committee voting for the change were: Miele, Randy Allison and Derek Slaughter.

The committee’s recommendation goes to city council, which has the final vote on the proposed amended ordinance. Council’s next meeting is Thursday at City Hall Council Chambers.

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