Merchants, council review draft of zoning overlays for Village Administrator Michael Sturino delivered a 27-page document outlining zoning codes for the proposed zoning overlay for the village’s Business Improvement District on Madison Street. The proposal was unveiled during a June 22 meeting between the village council and members of the Chamber of Commerce, the Main Street Redevelopment Association and the M2 Merchants Association.
The final draft of the proposed zoning code does not include parking regulations but does define the types of businesses that would be allowed in the district, along with use regulations, prohibited businesses, lot area requirements, building regulations and sign regulations.
The language of the document, Sturino said, is very restrictive and is meant as a starting point for the group to change as needed.
Chief among the commercial concerns for the district are the types of businesses that would be permitted in the district.
In order to outline what is and is not permitted, Sturino said, it is necessary to have comprehensive definitions included in the document to help determine what each business is.
Antique stores, for example, are proposed to be “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.”
One of the most debated entries in the document is the definition for catering establishments, which would not be allowed in the district.
Catering is defined in the document as “an establishment where the primary purpose is for food preparation on the premises for sale and consumption offsite.”
These establishments, the group decided, would not be permitted on Main Street, because they do not generate sales tax and do not, generally, have storefronts.
“It is a food factory, with no pedestrian traffic,” said Bill McKenzie, one of the interested business owners at the meeting.
Not included in this category are establishments such as the new Prep Kitchen located in Madison Commons, since Prep Kitchen would be selling food on the premises.
Also not affected by the catering ban would be restaurants which, as a side business, cater events.
The intent of the zoning overlays and business improvement district is to “promote a pedestrian-friendly service and retail shopping experience, to minimize negative secondary effects in surrounding residential neighborhoods, and to serve as an area destination for its restaurants and specialized shops.”
Conditional uses, designated as such so that the council has more control over how they appear and where they go, will include drive-in and drive-through facilities, mortuaries, publicly owned parks, religious institutions, restaurants and theatres.
As far as the lot area requirements, Sturino wrote, they are designed to “encourage the formation of solid blocks of commercial and mixed-use buildings for a walkable downtown.”
All of the buildings in the zone would be required to face the street as their primary entrance.
“This is kind of a big deal,” Mayor Anthony Calderone said. “Not every building is oriented towards the street. This [zoning code] says every building is going to face the street.”
Buildings, if the code is passed, would be no more than four stories or 50 feet high and certain construction material requirements”still to be decided upon”will be included to help ensure the street maintains its character.
Also discussed were the addition of pedestrian and transit amenities for the street, in which “every development [would] provide one or more of the ‘pedestrian amenities’ listed … within the right-of-way.”
Amenities listed include a plaza, courtyard, square, sitting spaces, building canopies, public art which incorporates seating or shelters.
Parking considerations were also discussed. Among ideas considered were semi-public parking spaces with street-front retail spaces, that would include above ground and below ground parking and a possible penalty fee on new developments that could not meet the current parking requirements, asking them to put money into a parking fund.
The penalty fee, suggested by Calderone, did not meet with the group’s approval.
The lengthy document, however, proved too long to discuss in detail during the allotted time and a second meeting has been scheduled to discuss the sign regulations for the district, further considerations for parking and the overlay’s borders on July 13, at 6 p.m. in the lower level of Village Hall.