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Thread: Commercial zone next to a park

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Commercial zone next to a park

    We have a C-2 Commercial Zone adjacent to a park and natural waterway, and the applicant in a Concept Plan is proposing to put in strictly retail spaces with an alley and backs of stores adjacent to the waterway and park.

    Is it appropriate to reject the proposed Concept Plan based on our concept that there should be C-2 offices adjacent to the park (for views and interaction) rather than the proposed C-2 retail stores - if he has met all the technical requirements for C-2 as strictly retail stores?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Around here we would have suggested a Use and Development as part of a rezoning to create such a restriction.

    If there is no Use and Development, then any allowed use could go in.

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I wouldn't have a problem with the retail stores if the interacted with the park and water front, but it sounds like yours is turning its back to that. Do you have any design guides or requirements that can force him to interact?
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    Can you reject based on intensity of use(s) next to environmentally sensitive area? Really emphasize the development standards that don't protect the environment, or use your Comp Plan/Future Land Use plan to deny based on the definition of open space/sensitivity/whatever works in your plan, or tell them to turn it around to face the other way, and restrict development that enter/disturbs/alters the existing environmentally sensitive area.

    It's a stand-on-one-leg kind of thing. I can tell you from experience that keeping your balance is tricky.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    We have a C-2 Commercial Zone adjacent to a park and natural waterway, and the applicant in a Concept Plan is proposing to put in strictly retail spaces with an alley and backs of stores adjacent to the waterway and park.

    Is it appropriate to reject the proposed Concept Plan based on our concept that there should be C-2 offices adjacent to the park (for views and interaction) rather than the proposed C-2 retail stores - if he has met all the technical requirements for C-2 as strictly retail stores?
    Not sure what C-2 means precisely in your jurisdiction, but if retail with backs turned to a park is considered conforming, then it seems to me that the zoning system may be somewhat deficient, as either the direction of entrances, the presence of streetwalls and the amount and degree and fenestration facing a park could, in theory, be regulated with zoning, at least in the jurisdictions I'm familiar with. Such controls could be added as an overlay (say, call it a commercial park-edge overlay). If no such regulation exists, and in the absence of some sort of overriding design review provision in your zoning ordinance (or they are otherwise seeking variances and other zoning actions that give you leverage to negotiate), I'm not sure how you could stop a compliant and conforming AoR project.

    You could always try to argue with the developer that changing his design would be in his own economic interest. I suspect thast there is a body of literature out there that shows things like entrances on parks can support certain types of retail activity and even increase property values and commercial rents.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    Around here we would have suggested a Use and Development as part of a rezoning to create such a restriction.

    If there is no Use and Development, then any allowed use could go in.
    Thanks for your response. We have had C-2 zoning (Office/Retail) on this property for a few years with the included option of course of commercial retail and/or commercial offices. I think the park and related waterway improvements were developed later. No one really considered how the subject property would have been proposed to have backs of retail and alley against such a bucolic setting. Is it proper for the Planning Commission just say "No, bring us something else."? I don't think we should be in the position of dictating design. Planning Department is not enthusiastic about telling the applicant to change his concept and accepts it.

    The applicant thinks it is more to his financial advantage to have commercial retail rather than commercial offices (or a mix thereof).

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Salmissra View post
    Can you reject based on intensity of use(s) next to environmentally sensitive area?
    We don't have such specific authority. What would "environmentally sensitive" mean?

    I think the "environmentally sensitive" waterway area should be used by people from the office areas.

    I am not sure office frontage would be any less sensitive to the environment than the back of retail stores would be.

    I don't think this would be grounds for denial of a Concept Plan so that we could have office use, but thanks for your ideas.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    Not sure what C-2 means precisely in your jurisdiction, but if retail with backs turned to a park is considered conforming, then it seems to me that the zoning system may be somewhat deficient, as either the direction of entrances, the presence of streetwalls and the amount and degree and fenestration facing a park could, in theory, be regulated with zoning, at least in the jurisdictions I'm familiar with. Such controls could be added as an overlay (say, call it a commercial park-edge overlay).

    Thanks. That appears to be an option, however, at this point, I wonder if the applicant would think we are trying impose new rules on him after he has purchased the property, and it is not financially feasible in his judgment. If he does not see the value or financial gain in our ideas, he may consider this unfair at this point and take legal action adverse to the city.

    Our Planning Department does not seem willing to push the issue for office use in lieu of retail.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    I wouldn't have a problem with the retail stores if the interacted with the park and water front, but it sounds like yours is turning its back to that. Do you have any design guides or requirements that can force him to interact?
    No, we don't have any written design guides. I have not come across a set of design guides that is simple to understand, fair to developers, and simple to administer.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    San Antonio has Commercial adjacent to their waterway (a river loop that has a dam and height controls to maintain a steady river elevation), and they have beautifully taken advantage of "river front" (lagoon) frontage for Commercial use.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    San Antonio has Commercial adjacent to their waterway (a river loop that has a dam and height controls to maintain a steady river elevation), and they have beautifully taken advantage of "river front" (lagoon) frontage for Commercial use.
    Oklahoma City is trying to copy the San Antonio river walk model. I haven't seen the results, but it's supposed to be nice.
    Wichita is trying, but all the retail faces away from the river and just creates a walking path connection. Besides, the river isn't much to speak about anyway, but it's still a nice bike path with some art.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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