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Thread: Indoor recreation zoning question

  1. #1
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    Indoor recreation zoning question

    Hi All,
    I am in the process of opening a Children's Private Party Place in a building within a "Planned Light Manufacturing M-1 District". We believe that we fit into the category of Indoor Recreation which is defined within the zoning district as a principal permitted use of "Indoor recreation facilities including but not limited to tennis, swimming, bowling, golf and baseball, but excluding arcades containing a total of more than three coin-operated machines".

    I am an Event Planner and I own an entertainment company and our business model is a private party place consisting of structured activities such as games, contests and dancing as well as recreation areas with various activities such as an indoor carnival, "Wii" Video games, etc... Please bear in mind that this facility will only host private parties and any food will be brought in by caterers and only reheated on-site.

    When we met with the planning commission, they were very excited about the idea and thought the location was perfect. However the Building Inspector thought it did not fit into the category of indoor recreation (he thought it was more like a catering hall??) and thus bumped us up to the Zoning Board Of Appeals for a interpretation.

    I truly believe that my business model does fit into the broad category of indoor recreation as defined above.

    I have been looking for documentation to confirm my opinion and I noticed a prior post referring to the "Planner's Dictionary" published by the APA Press. I realize this is a broad question, but does anyone have any documentation they can refer to help me for help with my search? Or possbily an opinion on my situation?

    Thanks in advance planning professionals!

    - Ed

    n "M1"

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Are you looking for a liquor license ALA "Chuckee Cheese"?

    Sorry I don't know of any documentation that will broadly support your model with the short post. Besides, every local zoning code is different. For good reason. Frankly, it's the building inspector's arse on the line if things go south, so he / she is taking the cautious route.

    Off-topic:
    Dan, is APA listing jobs for Event Planners?

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the quick reply. Alcohol is not a major part of our business model as typically there will only be a small number of supervising parents on hand. Most kids will be dropped off and picked up by their parents.

    I suppose my goal with this post is to find a reputable publication that defines indoor recreation is such a way that will help me make my case that we do fit into the category, even though our type of business is not specifically mentioned in the existing zoning definition.

    I've been noticing that other municipalities have separated the indoor recreation category into indoor recreation and indoor amusement, thus separating the two. We may actually fit better into the indoor amusement category, but the separation has not happened in my municipality yet.

    It may also help to mention that there are 2 other businesses in the same building the also have parties with refreshments (Kids U and a Karate place), and both have been placed into the indoor recreation category.

    I'm not sure if this additional info helps...

  4. #4
    The local ordinance is going to trump any APA or other 'dictionary' as they have no weight in terms of any formal adoption by the community.

    It sounds to me like you are not in the 'indoor recreation' definition since you don't appear to offer any of the uses listed there (tennis, basketball, etc). But I wouldn't consider you a 'catering facility' either. The use might be defined as a private party facility. (Private in the sense that it is not a 'walk in' type of land use, but rather scheduled.)

    At the BZA you want to explain how your land use most closely relates to the indoor recreation land use, since that use is permitted in that district.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    You may want to check out the North American Industry Classification System website at www.naics.com as many jurisdictions have adopted this standard codification system when identifying permitted uses. I don't know if your particular jurisdiction has adopted this standard code but even if it has not it may be a good starting point for your argument.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all your answers. My meeting with the Zoning Board of Appeals was postponed because of a snowstorm and I am scheduled to meet with them in 2 days.

    I realize that it is a long shot, but is there any merit in my argument that because the zoning definition: "Indoor recreation facilities including but not limited to tennis, swimming, bowling, golf and baseball, but excluding arcades containing a total of more than three coin-operated machines" contains the phrase about the arcades, and therefore that one can assume that this definition acknowledges that a business with arcade style games would therefore be included as an accepted usage? BTW, this business will include arcade style games, but they are not open to the public; only for private party use.

    Once again, thanks for any advice in advance!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Shell_Waster has an excellent point -- even if your community does not have a classification for what you are seeking -- its a good basis to start your case from.

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