By Bob Mytych
Independent Special Writer
Gary Snarski, owner of the Belvil Realty/Century 21 business at the corner of Third and Main streets, attended the Jan. 10 meeting of the Belleville Planning Commission to express his concerns over the current downtown zoning ordinance.
Currently, a business on Main Street 6,000 square feet or less must have retail sales on the ground floor, Snarski said, noting that the business community should have been made aware of this situation.
He said people owning buildings on Main, like he does, may not be able to sell if the ground floor has to be retail.
Snarski told the planners he was exploring the possibility of selling his building to Coldwell Bankers.
He said the Professional Building at 152 Main Street currently houses service businesses and if it was sold it would have to be renovated to make it retail.
Planner Jill Bahm of Birchler Arroyo Associates, the city’s planning consultant, put together the Central Business District ordinance that he was talking about. It was unanimously adopted by the city council on July 6, 2010.
Snarski also brought his concerns to the Downtown Development Authority’s Jan. 16 meeting. Snarski is a member of the DDA and at that meeting he was elected vice-chairman.
“We should have been made aware of this by the DDA,” Snarski said.
An amended new business district that would combine the B-2 and B-3 zoning into one is in the works and Snarski’s building is a prime location for multi-use tenants.
But, currently the zoning requires retail on the ground floor.
Bahm gave a report to the Planning Commission on the new zoning amendments related to the B-2 and B-3 Downtown Business Districts, including uses and standards, with special attention given to outdoor dining and definitions.
She presented the new language, which would be aimed at combining the permitted uses so that the two districts could become one under the ordinance.
New and amended definitions to the district’s uses include business support services, general retail uses, personal service establishments, and professional and administrative office uses.
With the two districts combined, the Planning Commission hopes to have better control and restrictions over mixed permitted uses.
Designations for first floor retail and other floors for retail and residential will also be clarified.
A final report and recommendation is expected back for the Feb. 14 commission meeting.
Commission Chairman Steve Jones also said that the commission hopes to have a final report next month on the city’s sign ordinances. A subcommittee has been working on signs since last fall.
Bahm also noted that the city is moving forward in the process of having a clearzoning designation, which, once adopted, would compile all of the city’s complex ordinances and make them interactive and user-friendly, she said.
By Bob Mytych