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ZAP will wait for the new year to vote on Slaughter Lane rezone

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 by Elizabeth Pagano

Last week, the Zoning & Platting Commission considered what seemed like every possible option at their disposal during their discussion of the proposed rezoning of the old Albertson’s site at 1807 West Slaughter Lane. In the end, however, all suggestions fell flat and the commissioners voted to delay making a decision until January 4.


The proposed rezoning would change the site from Community Commercial (GR) to Limited Industrial Services (LI). The applicant’s agent, Alice Glasco, claimed that the LI designation is necessary because the local company Out to Lunch Foods hopes to use the space for food preparation.


Glasco said the LI designation was necessary due to the size of the building, which is 11, 200 square feet. Food preparation spaces in GR have a limit of 5,000 square feet.


The applicant’s prospects looked dim from the start, with Chair Betty Baker questioning the wisdom of the proposed change immediately following the reading of the agenda, before the case was even presented. She expressed concern that the introduction of industrial zoning could set a precedent for permissive zoning in the area.


“This area is largely urban, almost rural in some instances, with awful lot of large land areas,” said Baker “It’s a situation where anyone might have reason to assume that it might reoccur. That’s where I’m coming from, and I’m very serious.”


While the commission didn’t articulate any concern about Out to Lunch Foods specifically, there was discussion about how the zoning change could affect the neighborhood. “If they move out, then another industrial use can move in,” Baker said.


Glasco said her client would be amenable to the idea of adding a rollback provision.


The proposed rollback would have allowed the city to return the property to a Community General designation under certain circumstances, including a change of occupant.


Baker remained skeptical. “I won’t say how long I’ve been with the city, but I haven’t seen a rollback yet under those provisions, and I’ve seen a lot of them on the books,” she said.


Talk of adding a conditional overlay to the rezoning also offered little comfort.


That overlay would have prohibited the property from being used for basic industry, campground, equipment repair, equipment sales, general warehousing and distribution, retail sales, recycling center, resource extraction, scrap and salvage, and vehicle storage.


Baker and Commissioner Gregory Bourgeois expressed concern over the specificity of those exclusions, which worried Baker especially.


“I’ve almost convinced myself that we’re doing contract zoning, particularly with the conditional overly,” she said.


The case also prompted talk about looking into a code amendment that would increase the allowable square footage for food preparation spaces to avoid such complications in the future. Though nothing was decided, there was some agreement that it was something that could be looked into as an alternative to introducing industrial zoning to neighborhoods.


“I think we are going to be facing this more than we want to,” said Baker.


The commission initially voted 3-2 against the rezoning, with Commissioners Patricia Seeger and Donna Tiemann not in attendance. But a second motion to take up discussion of the item again at their January 4 meeting, when the full commission is expected to be present, passed unanimously.

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