Retail Zoning Amendments 2011

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1. Sidewalk Seating.
Allow sidewalk seating with a ZC (Zoning Certificate) (over the counter, $180 application fee), rather than requiring an AUP (Administrative Use Permit) (a process that could take 2-4 months, with an $878-$2,948 application fee). In all districts, an AUP is required to place seating or other furniture into the public right-of-way on the sidewalk.

Currently, a restaurateur needs to apply for an Administrative Use Permit that can be approved by the Zoning Officer with neighbor notification and subject to the "non-detriment" finding and other specific findings. If appealed, time frame can be significantly extended.

The proposed zoning amendment would simplify the process and reduce the cost.
2. Ground floor office uses.
In some districts, office uses are prohibited from the ground floor based on the concern they will detract from the pedestrian character of the area. However, clients and employees of office uses do, in fact, contribute to pedestrian activity.

This proposed change would allow office uses on the ground floor with appropriate standards for window displays or view into the building. “Office retail” uses include Insurance Agents, Title companies, Real Estate Agents, and Travel Agents, and would be allowed by-right in ground floor spaces; other office uses include Professionals and Government, Institution, and Utilities, and in some districts, Medical Practitioners, and would be allowed with an AUP on the ground floor.

The proposed amendments would require offices located on the ground floor adjacent to a street frontage to include a storefront windows display or to be transparent and provide pedestrian viewing a minimum of 10 feet into the storefront area. It is proposed that such uses could be approved with an “over-the-counter” Zoning Certificate ($180 application fee) rather than a Use Permit (minimum $4,361 application fee which requires a public hearing and approximately 6-12 months of process time) and would have attached a standard set of conditions to further protect the public from undesirable uses.
3. Beer & Wine with food.
In most districts, adding beer and wine service at existing or new restaurants requires a UPPH (Use Permit with Public Hearing) (minimum 6-12 months process and $4,361 application fee).

This proposed change would lower the review to an AUP (2-4 months, $878-$2,948 application fee), which would reduce the time and cost associated with adding this service. This change has already been adopted in the downtown. With these amendments, restaurants within 200 ft of a residential district in the downtown would also use the AUP process. Restaurants will still be subject to the restrictions of an Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) license, and alcohol will not be available for take-out. A controversial application for restaurant alcohol service could still be set for a public hearing before ZAB (Zoning Adjustments Board).
4. Restaurants. This proposed change would lower the review required for new restaurants from an AUP (2-4 months, $878-$2,948 application fee) or UPPH (minimum 6-12 months process and $4,361 application fee) to a ZC (over the counter, $180 application fee) or AUP, depending on the size of the restaurant. For most neighborhood commercial districts, restaurants less than 1,000 square feet in size would be by-right; for the avenue commercial districts, under 1,500 square feet, and in the downtown, under 2,000 square feet.

Some differences between the districts remain due to quota size limitations. (There is no change to quotas being considered by the Planning Commission at this time.)

New restaurants would still need to meet the parking requirements.

5. Pedestrian-oriented businesses.
In some districts, uses that may encourage pedestrian activity though client and customer visits require an AUP (2-4 months, $878-$2,948 application fee) or UPPH (minimum 6-12 months process and $4,361 application fee).

Uses considered pedestrian-oriented include: restaurants, Video/DVD rentals, department stores, banks, exercise/martial arts studios, group class instruction, and gyms/health clubs. In addition, lower review levels for incidental food and beverage and incidental live entertainment will allow existing pedestrian-oriented businesses to expand their operation and potentially attract more patrons to an area.

This proposed change would lower those review levels to a ZC (over the counter, $180 application fee) or AUP, depending on the use and the district.
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7. The merchant association that I am most affiliated with is:
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