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Commercial access onto predominately residential street

What are the types of things you would consider when determining whether or not to support a zoning amendment that would grant a commercial use driveway access onto a predominately single-detached residential street?

Commercial uses exist on both sides of Main Street. Many commercial uses on the west side of Main Street are through-lots and therefore, they abut both Garden Road and Main Street, BUT they only have vehicular access onto Main Street. Access onto Garden Road is not permitted, therefore, such space is occupied by surface parking, commercial buildings, etc.

A property owner of a through-lot is, owner of a medical office, seeking second access onto Garden Road. It is anticipated that approval would generate 50 more vehicular trips on Garden Road daily. The Engineering Division believes that Garden Road has the capacity to handle this traffic, and more. Currently, Plannning staff are likely to permit access, but with conditions, such as requiring the applicant to install a gate that must be locked after operating hours and to improve the property's landscaping that abuts Garden Road.

This planning application is especially important because if/when approval is granted, we anticipate additional commercial uses also applying to grant access onto Garden Road. what further aggravates the situation is that many people use Garden Road to skip the traffic lights on Main Street, and therefore, many drivers may also use this proposed access as well to cut Main Street.



From my experience in a former town it will definitely become a cut through that I would never use because of the ethics or something. ;) My current city just says no access onto a local street without a really good reason. We've allowed it only when the fire department asked for it or on the rare lot that has no arterial access. I guess my first question would be what do the people living there think about it? Then, why does the medical office need access to Garden when they have access to Main like everyone else? Unless you plan on Garden becoming the back entrance for all the commercial on Main I would say no, but then politics always steps in to say yes - so good luck.


Dear Leader
Staff member
For corner lots at the intersection of streets with two different hierarchies (example: corner of an arterial and local street), some site planning and access management regulations allow access only from the street with the lower hierarchy. This is to reduce the number of curb cuts onto the busier street. The lower hierarchy street is functionally a curb cut off the higher hierarchy street. Excepting an unfortunate shortcut, in most cases commercial traffic won't go farther down the lower hierarchy street than the commercial driveway.


A bit different than your situation. In my experience, the through-block commercial lots that back up onto a residential street can be kind of troubling. 50 VTD isn't that much -- about 6 VTH from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. If people want to use that access as a cut-through from Garden Street to Main Street, in my opinion it's the problem of the parking lot/driveway owner -- they should know they're creating a really convenient shortcut that other people will use. It's a correction of sorts for the long block. If they want to gate if off after hours, require a Knox box for first responders.



Similar to what Dan said, I've seen where the access the commercial use wants is very limited, but the access will be abused by the residential users. In another town, staff argued against allowing an access point on the residential street to the rear of the site. However through the process they contacted their friends on Council and ultimately got the access approved. Two years later, the commercial use installed parking stops to deter cut-through traffic and then later put up a chain across the driveway to block it entirely. I just smiled when that happened (and it looks like crap).

Results may vary...