Compromises curb restrictions on parkway, boulevard developments
"A City Council committee debate last week about how to regulate development along the city’s vaunted boulevards and parkways provided an answer “for those in the audience wondering how sausage is made,” Councilman Ed Ford said.
During the July 22 meeting of the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee, members sliced, diced, ground and assembled the first development and redevelopment standards for land along the city’s parks, parkways and boulevards.
The next day, the City Council unanimously adopted a 38-page ordinance that contains compromises on five key issues that the development community and city park and planning officials had been at odds on.
The five contested issues and the compromises approved were as follows:
Gasoline pumps: An ordinance that had been supported by the city’s park board and endorsed by the planning commission would have restricted new businesses with gasoline pumps from locating within 150 feet of any parkway or boulevard.
The compromise adopted prohibits new gasoline sales establishments on boulevards. However, they will be allowed by special-use permit at the intersections of parkways and arterial streets as long as they are set back 50 feet from the parkway (or 30 feet if there is a wall or fence along the parkway frontage). The establishments also must contain a retail building at least 5,500 feet in size. According to Councilman John Sharp, that will prevent “some rinky-dink, fly-by-night operation” from locating on a parkway.
Commercial parking: Park and planning officials wanted to ban all parking between new retail facilities and all parkways and boulevards.
The compromise preserved the requirement that parking be on the sides or backs of new retail buildings on boulevards.
However, it allows a “vehicular-use area” including one row of parking and a two-lane ingress/egress lane between new retail buildings and parkways as long as there is a 50-foot setback. And it allows the vehicular-use area along the parkway frontage to be expanded with deeper setbacks.
Residential lot orientation: Parks and planning officials wanted all new single- and two-family homes built along parks and boulevards to front or side those thoroughfares.
The compromise retains that requirement along boulevards with one exception. On infill lots, new homes may back onto the boulevard if an immediately adjacent home does.
On parkways, the compromise states that new homes must front onto parkways within blocks where the majority of existing structures front onto the parkway.
In other other situations, new homes may back onto a parkway as long as there is a 60-foot buffer area, half maintained by the city and half maintained by a property owners’ association.
Transparency: Parks and planning officials wanted to require that the facade of any new commercial building facing a parkway or boulevard would have to achieve 60 percent transparency through the use of glass doors or windows.
The compromise reduces the requirement along parkways to 33 percent transparency.
Legal nonconforming uses: The adopted ordinance contains the development community’s proposal for protecting the owners of residential and commercial properties that become “legal nonconforming uses” as a result of the new standards.
One concern was that such status could create hardships for owners due to their inability to replace or sell structures destroyed by natural disasters. Another concern involved the inability to expand or otherwise change the properties in the future under the new guidelines. And a third related to the inability to market parkway-fronting lots, as has proven to be the case in some Northland subdivisions."