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Thread: Eliminating uses that don't support redevelopment

  1. #1

    Eliminating uses that don't support redevelopment

    The city I work for is trying to create new zoning regs for its redevelopment area. We've seen that certain types of uses (consignment shops, thrift shops, pawn shops and check cashing stores) seem to discourage "full cost" retail from locating near them. We'd like to either eliminate those uses from our main mixed-use corridors, or require that they only be there as part of another use. Our city attorney's office is terrified that we are taking someone's rights away; our argument is that this is a redevelopment area, and we should do what we can to encourage new, market retail. Has anyone limited the discount-type uses this way in their redevelopment areas and survived a court battle over it? Or has anyone done a study that shows a negative correlation between redevelopment and concentrations of thrift-type uses? Help...
    Last edited by Dan; 18 Nov 2007 at 2:12 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Sep 1999
    400 miles from Orlando
    Is it a CRA? This is not my area of expertise, but it sounds somewhat arbitrary to allow a drug store but not a pawn shop. Have you looked into building an overlay district with stricter guidelines and regulations than your Code allows?

  3. #3
    Yes, it is a CRA. The County we are in has created an overlay district for the unincorporated area just outside, but our zoning director is very uncomfortable with overlay districts. I'll just have to try harder to convince him, I guess. Thanks!

  4. #4

    May 1997
    Williston, VT
    This is a difficult question, which I analogize to the communities that are trying to eliminate the franchise businesses, but there may be ways. You ARE going to need a good land use lawyer (using local counsel is usually a mistake anyway), but if you can separate those problem uses out on the basis of performance, rather than just the label they wear (they are commercial uses, that's that), you may have a chance. A lot depends on whether you have or can institute a design review process in the CRA. That process would give you a lever, and maybe even its very existence would discourage the uses you are concerned about. A lot also depends on your ability to do some detailed local research. I would want to start at the local police department, getting detailed records on activity associated with the uses you have in mind. If you can prove they generate more incidents or more crimes, that's a start. I would also attack it through appearance. I don't see those uses separated from gaudy signs very often (though there are examples), so I would work on sign design guidelines. Its going to be a battle of careful research and attrition. Good luck.

  5. #5
    Thanks for the help, Lee. Actually, I had tried the approach from crime statistics once before, with so-called "convenience" stores in this area. (They are actually stores that sell individual cigarettes and allow illegal drugs to be sold in their parking lots.) However, despite the crime statistics, we had to back off because the major convenience store chains began to express hostile intentions, even though they have no interest in locating in the CRA. We are now thinking of requiring our troublesome uses to be required to be part of a mixed use development, which may help to reduce their impacts. Our problem with the thrift uses was not crime so much as the fact that they all tend to gather in the same areas, and then other businesses won't come in. If we could limit the number of consignment stores, or set distance requirements, maybe it wouldn't be such a problem. Again, our city atty argues that there is no such distance requirement between retail clothing stores, so why require it for second hand retail clothing stores. We will be paying a lot of attention to design in this area and signage will be a major part of that.

  6. #6

    Oct 2001
    Solano County, California
    One question that comes to mind is: What are you trying to accomplish? Thrift stores in and of themsleves can actually be interesting and attract diverse populations. They provide "gritty" local character. Design standards can help solve the "ugly storefront" issue. Check cashing stores are another issue, as they are a (necessary??) blight.

    An example of this issue is the City of Pittsburgh, which wanted to destroy entire blocks of gritty, locally owned shopping and replace it with the generic upscale chain stores that are too often seen as the "solution." (The Plan was luckily rejected).

    So, I guess my question is how much you really want to sanitize the area?

    I apologize if I'm just polemicizing!

  7. #7
    Perhaps you are asking the wrong question. You might consider what mechanisms you can put into place that will change the economics of the area. If the local economy has created a demand for thrift and check cashing stores, and you prohibit them through regulation, what are you left with...empty storefronts. I would argure that your approach should be incentive based, and in this case, over time, create a local economy that will support the uses you desire.

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