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Curbing a possible corridor of cylinders -- is it possible?

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,788
Points
58
It looks as if my small town may be turning into an auto mall.

New residential development in the town consists mainly of move-up and "entry level high end" homes in the 2,500 to 4,000 square foot (230-370 m^2) range.

The major street through the town, a very heavily traveled four lane thoroughfare with a disproportionately large amount of heavy truck traffic, is largely undeveloped. The section of street is about two and a half miles (4 km) long. Site planning, signage, landscaping and architectural regulations are very strict. In recent development activity, a high-end motorcycle dealership just opened, a new gas station is coming online in a couple of months, another gas station is a few weeks away from Town Commission, and a recent design review submittal includes two spec buildings for auto sales. Other commercial development along the street includes an existing gas station and a lumberyard. That's everything.

The quandry -- EVERY person that inquires about land use along the street is looking to do something related with vehicles -- auto sales, RV sales, quick lube joints, gas stations, auto parts stores, and so on. NO retail, NO restaurants, NO office, NO nothing but stuff that has to do with the sales, repair and accessorizing of transportation devices with internal combustion engines.

A mile east of the town limits, the road devolves into a "mechanical commercial" district, with the assortment of RV dealers, gas stations, mixed skilled mechanical trades, used car dealers, auto parts stores, portable building dealers, stores selling Dale Earnhardt paraphenalia, and the like. That strip of "redneck retail" is nearly four miles long, and it's slowly moving west towards my small town.

I'm currently rewriting the town's zoning code. I don't want to ban internal combustion-related uses, and thus render all such uses nonconforming. Not wanting to see the area turn into a continuation of a "corridor of cylinders," albiet one with pretty buildings, lots of trees and short signs, I'm proposing the following language ...

210.40 C-G Commercial – general (formerly C-1)

.02 Diversity of commercial uses. The major east-west corridor through XXXXXXX of XXXXXXXX, vehicle sales, vehicle service, and other “mechanical commercial” businesses form the dominant land uses along XXXXXXXX. The result is an unattractive commercial strip that presents a poor impression of the host municipality. The eventual growth of the strip westward into XXXXXXX would deprive the Town of the opportunity to create a vibrant and diverse retail environment, hurt the Town’s reputation as a desirable community, and harm the distinctive “sense of place” that is an integral part of the Town.

To protect XXXXXXX from externalities caused by a concentration of “mechanical commercial” uses, the cumulative area of parcels containing the following uses may not exceed 25% of the total area of all C-G zoned land in the Town.

• Convenience stores with gasoline sales
• Gas stations, including those with co-branded uses such as restaurants and convenience stores
• Large item sales and rental – class 1
• Large item sales and rental – class 2
• Vehicle minor repair
• All businesses whose primary function is the sales, rental, repair, and modification of self-propelled vehicles and/or items powered by internal combustion engines, and the sales of parts and accessories for self-propelled vehicles.


For such uses in shopping centers and similar facilities with multiple commercial tenants on one lot, where the portion of the lot dedicated to the use is located is not clearly defined, the area of the use is calculated using the following formula.

Use area = lot area × (gross floor area of use ⁄ gross floor area of building or center)
Example:
60,000 GFA shopping center on 300,000 square foot parcel
10,000 square feet used for auto parts sales (Large item sales and rental – class 1)
300,000 × (10,000 / 60,000) = 50,000 square feet


So, has anyone tried to place a cap or "reverse quota" on certain permitted uses?
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
Whoa, boy. Slow down. From this and earlier posts, you seem to be trying to solve every perceived issue through zoning. You will end up with a 300 page code that no one but you understands. Or does your town want to slow growth through over regulation?

If the issue is as you state, there are non zoning ways to foster other deveopment: restrict curb cut access without frontage roads; provide economic incentives (OK, with zoning bonuses); and corridor planning to name a few.

Talk with your econ development, real estate, and banking people: is there a market for office parks and restaurants? The market does much more to shape our cities than zoning. (sorry people, truth hurts)

Here is another approach. If there is solid support for your suggestion, thoroughly justified in the comp plan, then I suggest you try to accomplish your objective via the zoning map: place professional office/small-scale retail only zones at appropriate locations to meet your percentages. This assumes zoning changes would only be permitted if they can be justified through the comp plan.

I fear that creating a zoning district and then severly limiting the permitted uses to some complicated formula will not stand up in federal court.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,788
Points
58
mike gurnee said:
Whoa, boy. Slow down. From this and earlier posts, you seem to be trying to solve every perceived issue through zoning. You will end up with a 300 page code that no one but you understands. Or does your town want to slow growth through over regulation?
The current land use regulations are scattered among a 20 year old zoning code, a separate site design code, the County's subdivison code (adopted by reference), and landscaping in the municipal code. I'm consolidating the documents, with a goal of keeping the new unified development code under 200 pages. It's also written in very plain English, with plenty of tables and illustrations.

We're not trying to slow growth, but rather diversify it. Let's say you have a community that is zoned exclusively residential. Every house that get built is exactly the same model, with the same trim level and floorplan. Sure, the zoning allows for Tudors and French Provincials and Colonials, but all you're getting is US Home #4523 elevation B or Centex #7321 elevation A -- a snout house with a three car garage. What do you do?

If the issue is as you state, there are non zoning ways to foster other deveopment: restrict curb cut access without frontage roads; provide economic incentives (OK, with zoning bonuses); and corridor planning to name a few.
A corridor plan is in place, and it's implemented with a zoning overlay that permits a variety of commercial uses -- subject to tough design standards, of course. Curb cut access requirements are also very restrictive.

Economic incentives -- let me quote ...

"The Town does not offer cash subsidies or tax abatement to those considering development along the Colonial Drive corridor. Economic development is secondary to the maintenance of small town character."

The town budget is about $1,000,000. There's no money for economic development, and the Town Manager and I share a strong philosophical objection to corporate welfare. I don't want to go out and buy a Pier One, Barnes & Noble, or Olive Garden.

Talk with your econ development, real estate, and banking people: is there a market for office parks and restaurants? The market does much more to shape our cities than zoning. (sorry people, truth hurts)


The experts say the market is here, but one problem is that we're "off the map" of larger regional and national developers, who tend to stick to Orlando's north, east and south suburbs. We haven't been discovered yet. All development proposals are coming from "mom and pop" types, the majority natives to this part of the county.

There's a huge market for such services; the western suburbs of Orlando have a much smaller retail infrastructure than the rest of the metropolitan area, given the population. There's literally no retail or entertainment businesses catering to the middle class and growing upscale population of the area close by. There's a very nice mid-end mall, about 1,000,000'^2 GFA, and a power center 10 km east in Ocoee. Only a few restaurants, though. There's also quality middle end retail in the Pine Hills area, about 15 km to the east. Pine Hills has experienced demographic changes in recent years, and although the residential neighborhoods in that area are in pretty rough shape, the plazas are still busy. Their customer base, though, is all from the western part of Orange County, where I am.

One problem is that we're adjacent to a town that, until recently, had very blue-collar demographics. That town has absolutely no mid-to-high end retail -- outside of the incredible concentration of used car dealers, repair shops and parts stores, there's dollar stores and the like, Chinese buffets, a little bit of Class B office space, a couple of supermarkets, lots of convenience stores, a couple of chain drugstores, and that's about it. That town, though, has experienced an explosion of high-end residential construction on its south end. South of there is Windermere, a very wealthy community, and unincorporated areas where $300,000 homes predominate. WIndermere has almost no retail.

Basically, my problem is that the retail isn't following the rooftops. Sure a few car dealerships would be okay in any other muhicipality, but my town is has major geographic constraints that keep us from annexing much more land suitable for commercial development. The corridor is still largely vacant, but with just 10 or 15 projects, we'll hit buildout.

I fear that creating a zoning district and then severly limiting the permitted uses to some complicated formula will not stand up in federal court.
If there is court backing for quotas and caps on adult uses, pawn shops or other undesirable uses, implemented through spacing and proximity requirements, why would there be a legal issues if you use a percentage-based quota for other uses?
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
Basically, my problem is that the retail isn't following the rooftop.
Zoning does not change your situation. You can zone land exclusively for an office park if you want. But the desired development will not occur just because you have reserved the land. If 75% of the land is reserved for non auto oriented uses, you will have 3/4 of the frontage vacant unless the market is there...and is tapped.
The experts say the market is here, but one problem is that we're "off the map" of larger regional and national developers
So you need an economic development effort to generate the awareness. BTW, a small city planner also has economic development among the "other duties as assigned".
there is court backing for quotas and caps on adult uses, pawn shops or other undesirable uses
Yes, after a long series of court cases and a plethora of studies documenting the deleterious effects. That is why substantial justification is needed to support your objectives. BTW, the latest APA PAS publication on adult use regulations by Eric Damien Kelley posits that business licensing is a better control route than zoning.

I admire your goal and spunk. I just want you to think it all through, and perhaps see if there are alternative means to reach your goal.

Allow me the liberty to rephrase your issue:
Rapid development of one economic sector is depleting available land for a more appropiate economic mix. How can a city foster a more appropriate mix, and/or reserve sufficient land for such a mix?

Perhaps stated a bit differently will bring in experiences of others.
 
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