A committee of village officials and Madison Street business owners continued its work last week on setting the guidelines for the development of Forest Park’s downtown area.
The group is currently working out the details of a new zoning designation called the “downtown business district,” which will establish parameters for future development on Madison Street. They will be presenting a workshop on the district to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) at the board’s February meeting.
The ordinance, if passed, would limit the construction or alteration of buildings in the district to a list of approved uses, including, but not limited to, retail stores, bakeries, financial institutions, fitness centers, and art galleries.
Several other uses are permitted only with the approval of the ZBA and village council, including restaurants, theaters, hotels, or drive-through facilities. All secondhand stores except antique stores are prohibited from the district.
Other restrictions include a provision that all business in the district must be conducted in an enclosed building and a ban on the repair or processing of goods that create undesired odors, noise or heat. Lighting in the district must reflect the light away from nearby residential lots.
Buildings in the district, the ordinance explains, “are placed close to the street to create a vibrant pedestrian environment, to slow traffic down and to provide a storefront character to the street and encourage walking.”
The district will, therefore, contain no minimum front-yard or side-yard setback requirement. The minimum rear-yard setback for all structures will be 8 feet for alley access lots.
Buildings are required to have their primary entrances facing the street, and may be no more than four stories or 50 feet tall, whichever is greater.
The ordinance also provides a number of required design elements intended to “contribute to the storefront character and visual relatedness of Downtown buildings.”
In addition, it contains several suggested “pedestrian amenities,” including extra-wide sidewalk, seating areas, canopies or similar weather protection, and outdoor art which incorporates seating, such as fountains and sculptures.
Residential uses constructed within the district must be part of a mixed-use development, and no streetfront space may be used for residences, though residences can be constructed above or behind street-level storefronts.
Residences in the district are required to have a lot area per family of no less than 1,250 square feet, and each residential building must provide two off-street parking spaces per residential dwelling unit.
Accessory structures in the district, such as workshops, studios, greenhouses and storage sheds, are limited to 120 square feet in size and must accompany a previously existing primary use structure.
The ordinance also places several restrictions upon “automobile oriented” uses, such as auto dealers or repair shops, car washes and drive-thru facilities, in order to prevent such businesses from “detracting from the pedestrian friendly, storefront character of the district.”