Wednesday, October 13, 2010

P&Z: Grocery stores can include other uses

Vote could help Ketchum Market’s plans of a 3,100-square-foot pharmacy

Express Staff Writer

Roxy’s Market will be housed within the renovated building of former Williams Market at the corner of First and Main streets in Ketchum. It is planned to open late this winter. Photo by Mountain Express

More encouraging news came Monday night for the proposed Ketchum Market and, for that matter, any grocer in town.

Ketchum's Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously agreed on what will be allowed as part of a "grocery store." And ancillary uses, such as a bank, florist or pharmacy, are permitted. That means Ketchum Market can continue with its plans to build a 3,100-square-foot pharmacy outside its proposed 31,000-square-foot grocery store at the former Stock Building Supply site on Warm Springs Road.

"We got what we wanted," said Jim Laski, attorney for Ketchum Market developer Valmark.

However, the P&Z's definition—which isn't law but a recommendation to the City Council—mandates that only a "limited" floor area be taken by ancillary uses. The action was an attempt to make stores primarily sell groceries and avoid big box stores that sell many other items besides groceries. Ketchum Market's pharmacy would meet this "limited" definition because it would constitute only 9 percent of the project's gross floor area. And, City Attorney Stephanie Bonney said, that's a limited portion.

The grocery definition originally included a 10 percent limitation on secondary uses, but that was removed at Bonney's recommendation. She said instances might arise when up to 12 percent is permissible. Bonney emphasized that the city, not the developer, has the power to interpret its ordinances. She said that as long as the city's interpretation of "limited" is reasonable, the city is safe from litigation.

The P&Z's recommended grocery store definition is "a marketplace where predominately groceries are sold."

"Groceries refer to food and other everyday products that people are used to buying when they shop for food," the proposed code definition states. "Groceries include items such as food, beverages, tobacco, home chemical products, household papers and magazines. A grocery store may also dedicate a limited percentage of its floor area for other uses that are usual and customary to a grocery store, such as a bank, pharmacy [or] floral department, provided that such uses are merely auxiliary."

Commissioner Rich Fabiano was the only one expressing disapproval of the language.

"I'm real comfortable with this," Fabiano said and paused, "if we take the first two sentences and strike everything else."

He said a grocery store should only sell "groceries."

Bonney pointed out that Atkinsons' Market, the town's only grocery store, has a florist and doesn't even meet Fabiano's restrictions. Atkinsons' President Chip Atkinson has said in past meetings that Fabiano's rules are too restrictive.

"I guess I'm a little old fashioned when I look at these things," Fabiano said, though he voted to approve the definition.

Commissioner Michael Doty recused himself from voting because he's working on Roxy's Market, under development at the former site of Williams Market downtown. Commissioner Sam Williams was absent.

Having a definition for "grocery store" is important because the city has recently made several decisions specifically applying to grocery stores.

The P&Z made a zoning change recommendation to the council on Sept. 27 allowing grocers as a conditional use in the city's largest light-industrial area. Ketchum Market would be within that area and proposed the zoning change. Being a conditional use, grocery stores wouldn't automatically be permitted in the light-industrial area. The city could enact certain requirements case-by-case as it sees fit.

The council approved a zoning change on Sept. 16 making the community core—where Atkinsons' Market and Roxy's Market are located—the only place that grocery stores are permitted outright.

Trevon Milliard:

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