After a progress briefing from Village Administrator Mike Sturino, the Business Improvement District advisory committee will take a few weeks to digest use definitions and allowable uses for the street as well as implications for zoning requirements in the area.
At the meeting the advisory committee agreed on definitions for land uses and on the intent of the district; still being discussed are a possible extension of the existing BID to include Harlem Avenue, near the Bed, Bath & Beyond, building height and setback requirements, signage, parking issues and second level restrictions for the area.
The advisory committee includes several members from the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce, the Main Street Redevelopment Association, and the village council.
“This process really illustrates the complexity of regulating land uses,” Village Administrator Mike Sturino said of the group’s decision. “The members of the committee are able to more fully recognize, as you look at the details of land use regulations, how use and lot area requirements interact with each other.”
One thing the group agreed on was the intent of the district, which could be called the Downtown Business district (DBD).
The intent of the new zone is “to promote a pedestrian-friendly retail shopping experience, provide complimentary services, minimize negative secondary effects in surrounding residential neighborhoods and to serve as an area destination for its restaurants and specialized shops,” the group decided.
With this in mind an updated set of definitions for uses needs to be created in order to clearly differentiate among similar sounding uses with different levels of acceptance throughout the district.
Among these updated definitions the group agreed upon are the “antique store” category, which would be defined in the zoning code as “a business whose primary purpose is the sale of objects having special value because of their age, especially a domestic item or piece of furniture or handicraft esteemed for its artistry, beauty, or period of origin.”
This definition differentiates antique stores from thrift shops, which would not be allowed uses on Madison Street.
Another example is the category “financial institutions,” which would be defined in the code as “an institution licensed by the Federal Reserve Bank, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Association, or the Office of Comptroller of Currency that regularly takes and maintains deposits from, and provides a variety of credit and lending services to corporate, business and individual customers.”
This definition, Sturino explained to committee members, attempts to differentiate acceptable institutions from money lenders, pay-day cash lenders, etc.
“Retail Stores” are defined under the proposal as “a building or structure not greater than 20,000 square feet gross floor area on a single floor, primarily engaged in the retail sales of merchandising not specifically listed under another use classification, but excluding the sale of liquor or tobacco.”
Examples of retail stores that fit this definition are department stores, furniture stores, bookstores, music and hobby shops, etc.
Under the definitions provided, second hand stores would not be included in the district, with the exception of used jewelry, old coins, stamps, used books, music or sporting goods (new and used) or antique stores.
In the upcoming weeks, committee members will reconsider second floor restrictions for dance studios and professional service providers, due to handicapped access issues. Also being reconsidered are limitations on the number of units in mixed-use buildings.
“We are being thoughtful and deliberate and I think it is a useful process to go through,” Sturino said. “This is meant to be a public process; it is healthy and it is going to continue to be public and we’re determined to get it right.”
The advisory committee will meet again on March 23 to go over the remaining zoning issues and to begin discussions on façade requirements.