Council approves moratorium on town home applications

Several developers have been interested in building town homes in the city’s commercial arterial zones.

The City Council passed a moratorium on accepting applications for town houses within the city’s commercial arterial (CA) zone.

Staff from Community and Economic Development was previously reviewing the matter as a docket item, but with the rising amount of interest and pre-applications the city has received, the council voted on the walk-on ordinance on Monday.

“The reason we need to move this effective immediately is to make sure we allow staff to continue to do the work to look through those allowed uses in the CA zones before any applications get submitted,” said Council member Ryan McIrvin at the meeting. “This would basically be a little time out.”

The CA zone allows for a variety of retail sales, services and other commercial activities, including residential uses through mixed use buildings.

According to Vanessa Dolbee, current planning manager at CED, there has been an influx of interest from town home developers in the past two years, but the focus has moved to the commercial zones within the past year.

“Because we’ve seen the uptake of town homes in our CA zones, we decided we needed to enact this moratorium to ensure we can get the appropriate balance that we’ve already started looking at through this docket item before we start seeing projects start moving forward in the city,” she said.

The interest has largely been focused in the Northeast Fourth corridor and CA zone that circles the downtown area, Dolbee said.

The ordinance imposes moratorium on submission, acceptance, processing or approval of any applications for townhouse development in the CA zone property.

“We do not currently have any applications submitted for town homes for those zones,” Dolbee said. “We don’t have anything that’s currently under review. There’s only pre-applications or people who were thinking about submitting pre-applications right now.

According to a draft of the ordinance, CA zoned property with predominately residential uses can result in a significant loss of opportunity for employment growth, local shopping and services, and spaces for new businesses. The creation of mixed-use project can “lack the city’s desired balance between commercial and residential uses.”

Dolbee said the need for such town homes is apparent still.

“There’s a need for town homes in the city. We just need to identify where is the appropriate location. It’s the housing type we need. We need to figure out where it makes sense. That’s what we’re trying to do with this docket item,” she said.

The moratorium will be in effect until Dec. 3 unless the council decides to extend the date.

There will a public hearing regarding the ordinance at the July 9 City Council meeting.

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