Wednesday, December 22, 2010

P&Z: Less parking, more business

Panel moves to reduce requirements for restaurants


Pedestrians are good for business in Hailey and the Planning and Zoning Commission hopes to encourage walking with some proposed amendments to the city's zoning ordinance.

That was the message the P&Z sent Monday when it voted to recommend to the City Council that it decrease minimum parking requirements for restaurants from one parking space per 500 square feet of development to one space per 1,000 square feet of development, on par with the minimum requirement for retail commercial development.

The P&Z also voted to recommend that the city eliminate a provision that improvements to city rights of way required of developers, such as sidewalk construction, take place within 1,200 feet of the development. If the council accepts the recommendation, the city could require developers to make right-of-way improvements at any location in town.

City Planning Administrator Beth Robrahn said eliminating the 1,200-foot distance requirement for improvements would give the city "more flexibility" in completing sidewalk projects at various sites.

The commission identified a relationship between reduced parking requirements, sidewalk construction and economic development in Hailey.

"You want people to walk by businesses in the downtown, rather than go to one location in a car and then leave," said Commissioner Mark Johnstone.

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"Right now, in Ketchum and Hailey we don't have parking problems but lack-of-business problems," said Commissioner Michael Pogue.

The proposed ordinance changes would also eliminate a nonconforming-use clause that allowed businesses to operate under parking requirements that originally applied to them only so as long as they stayed in business continuously. That ordinance would now require the Red Elephant building on Main Street to build several new parking spaces because it was out of business for more than six months.

"[All] this is about making it easier to get businesses to come into the city," said P&Z Commissioner Goeffrey Moore in an interview.

The proposed ordinance changes would also require a buffer between the sidewalk and on-site parking and would modify the shared parking provisions to encourage shared parking arrangements between businesses.

Mountain Rides Executive Director Jason Miller spoke in support of the proposed ordinance changes on Monday, saying they would create "a more balanced transportation environment for the community."

Miller heads up public transportation services in the valley. Mountain Rides has been instrumental in acquiring federal grants to build Safe Routes to Schools sidewalks in Hailey and Bellevue.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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