Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Bellevue zoning change could help Main Street business climate

New land use will expand retail uses in light industrial zone

Express Staff Writer

Bellevue has begun a process that could help bring more business to Main Street.

At a special meeting on Monday, July 2, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend creation of a new light industrial/business (LIB) zoning district on Main Street to the City Council.

The new zoning district will align it with goals outlined in the city's comprehensive plan.

The new district will be located on the east side of Main Street, north of Spruce Street and south of Chestnut Street, and on the west side opposite the Gannett Road intersection.

If approved by the council, the district will allow more types of businesses than currently allowed by the area's existing light-industrial-only zoning.

Light industrial zoning allows a maximum of 25 percent retail space. The LIB zoning would remove that restriction and open the door for businesses looking for frontage on state Highway 75.

"Looking to the future, having this option is something that is needed by Bellevue," said Jim Balis, a property owner in the affected area.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Craig Eckles pointed out that the city's comprehensive plan says the best use of property that fronts state Highway 75 is business and that some light industrial uses are not appropriate for these lands because they should be compatible with neighboring uses.

He gave examples of a contractor's office, veterinary clinic and pharmacy as compatible uses.

Eckles said that businesses already located in the district would be grandfathered in, which means owners would not have to alter existing uses. However, anyone looking to open a new business on a vacant lot lying within the LIB district would have to conform to the land uses prescribed in the comprehensive plan. New buildings in the district would also be subject to design review by the P&Z.

"Most importantly, we need good design review," Eckles said, explaining that P&Z members would have a role in optimizing the effect this change will have on the city.

The P&Z will continue to discuss the implementation of land uses set out in the comprehensive plan, with greenbelt and recreation zoning changes scheduled for discussion at the next meeting on Thursday, July 19, at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

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