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Campaign ideas worth pursuing: Count residential units in commercial areas | Editorial
This is the second in a series of editorials exploring ideas from the campaign trail.
COUNT RESIDENTIAL UNITS IN COMMERCIAL AREAS
Residential units in commercial areas should be counted in density allocations. Residents of residential units in commercial areas use resources, generate visitors, drive vehicles and contribute to local traffic. Their presence has an impact that is not adequately measured under current standards.
Case in point, the Edward Rose & Sons’ neighborhood development at State Route 305 and Bond Road. The neighborhood was adopted under the master plan process, which gave the city considerable input on building setbacks, wetland buffers, and stormwater handling. In addition, the developer will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in impact fees and will make road and traffic improvements. In exchange, the developer was allowed to build more units per acre.
The 55-acre property was zoned medium residential, or 10 units per acre. The City Council rezoned nine acres commercial; 46 remained medium residential.
The developer proposes building 540 apartments and 160 senior care apartments. That’s more than 700 units — not including a to-be-determined number of apartments above stores in the commercial area. Those apartments won’t be included in the overall number of units being developed because they are in a commercial zone.
While the senior care apartments and commercial-area apartments don’t count toward the total density allocation, they are, as stated earlier, apartments occupied by people who use resources, generate visitors, drive vehicles and contribute to local traffic.
Apartments in commercial zones must be counted so that their impacts on resources and traffic can be adequately measured. Several officials and candidates agree. The council should make appropriate changes to the zoning code.