Downtown zoning change rejected

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Planning commissioners rejected a zoning change Tuesday night for the downtown flats area that neighborhood residents said would create too much noise, traffic and parking congestion.

The city planning department had recommended rezoning four lots in the Casey-Shattuck subdivision from residential to light commercial use to create a smooth transition of land uses in the area.

The block across West Ninth Street from the Federal Building is now a mix of residences and businesses.

Nineteen people spoke at the meeting.

"This is not a transition," said nearby resident Andy Hemingway. "This is an encroachment."

The proposal began as a request for the rezoning of just one lot.

Public Employees Local 71 union applied for the change to build a new office on its lot. The two-level project would double the size of the existing building, which was built in 1939 and needs repairs.

The city's light commercial zone allows high-density housing and low-intensity businesses.

The union's office is considered light commercial; it was grandfathered into a district rezoned as residential in the 1980s.

The union applied for rezoning because demolishing the building would nullify the lot's special status, and new development would have to conform to the residential zoning.

City planner Eric Feldt suggested rezoning three lots adjacent to the Local 71 property to light commercial. Those lots now contain a daycare, a residence and a duplex.

City Assessor Kenneth Miller wrote in a staff report that he did not expect home values for nearby property owners to change with the proposed zoning.

Several residents pointed out that they opposed the expanded zoning, not the original Local 71 application.

After 19 people spoke against the expanded zone change, commissioners decided only to vote on whether to recommend Local 71's request.

The motion failed. Four commissioners - Linda Snow, Dennis Watson, Dan Miller and Maria Gladziszewski - voted to approve the recommendation, and Michael Satre and Nancy Waterman were opposed. Five were needed to approve it.

Commissioners approved five items on the consent agenda Tuesday:

• A city project to allow a power line to Eaglecrest.

• A city review of the North Douglas sewer expansion.

• A permit for Vern Fiehler to build hangars at 1532 Crest St.

• A final plat and a permit to divide 9.9 acres in a hazard area northeast of the White Subdivision into two parcels; one is intended to become city open space.

• A variance for Trail Mix Inc. to reduce the 330-foot eagle-nest setback for reconstruction of the Auke Lake trail.

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