Council reviews business ordinance for downtown

The City Council took a closer look at permits for its Central Downtown Overlay District (DOD) during its April 16 work session.

In December 2012, the City Council approved an ordinance that allows tattoo parlors, single and multi-family dwellings, health services, patient clinics, medical/dental labs and general businesses except bail bonds and similar uses above the first floor of buildings that abut Bay Street.

Acting Development Director Tom Bonsell said staff believes the City’s Municipal Code should be reviewed and amendments considered, and that Council be specific regarding its vision and permit uses for the DOD.

City Attorney Greg Jacoby told the Council there is two issues that need clarification under the City Code — definition of general business services and language concerning retail sales.

Currently, according to City Code, general business services are defined as an establishment engaged in providing services to businesses or individuals, with no outdoor storage or fabrication, such as depositary institutions, non-depositary credit institutions, security and commodity brokers, dealers, exchanges and services, along with miscellaneous personal services not classified, are all permitted.

Under the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code, the city allows escort services, massage parlors, steam baths, tattoo parlors, Turkish baths, dating services and a host of other things, said Jacoby.

“The definition of general business services are ‘over-exclusive,’ ” Jacoby said.

The City could narrow down its definition of general business services and eliminated miscellaneous services for the Code, he added.

“You will eliminate a lot of things you may not approve of,” Jacoby said.

Jacoby provided the Council with a list so they can decide what to keep or not keep, or ask the Planning Commission for reccomendations.

The current City Code states retail sales and services are permitted under land-use tables.

“Those land-use tables include a ton of things,” Jacoby said. “What we’re doing — in this section of the code — is we are incorporating by reference every single use in the land-use tables that is a permitted use in a commercial or mixed-use zone anywhere in the city.”

He asked the Council what they wanted to do concerning tattoo parlors.

“You can excluded them, they are a personal service, under a SIC Code similar to body piercing and an escort service, etc,” Jacoby said. “You can exclude them from the central DOD if you wanted, and they would be allowed in other parts of the city. Or leave it the way it is.”

Jacoby said the issues are best suited for the Planning Commission to review and hear public comments.

“They need to know what you want and be specific about the direction,” he said.

Councilman John Clauson said the city has a limited amount of retail space.

“In my opinion, Bay Street needs to be retail space,” Clauson said. “Any access off Bay Street — even to the second floor — is Bay Street.”

Councilman Rob Putaansuu said he doesn’t see the second floor as “viable retail space.”

Mayor Tim Matthes warned the Council about limiting uses for downtown businesses.

“As a property owner who rents property, you should be very careful about how restrictive you are, as for an individual to earn money,” Matthes said. “Remember we’re taking about private individuals who own their own land. They should have an even chance to make a living.”

Clauson asked the mayor “if all restrictions off.”

“I don’t think we should take all the restrictions off,” Matthes replied. “Consider the fact that these are all private properties. Individuals need to have an opportunity to be in business.”

Clauson said it was his job to “look out for the interest of the city in its entirety.”

“What’s good for the city? We have very little retail space in our downtown area,” Clauson said. “To dilute that retail space by allowing something like bail bonds, I think it’s a disservice to the community.”

He said bail bonds are a necessary business, but don’t need to be downtown.

“I don’t think tattoos parlors need to be in our downtown,” Clauson said. “They should be in a house next to the jail.”

Councilman Jerry Childs said the Planning Commission needs to know what the Council envisions for downtown.

Bonsell said if the Council wants to “tighten it up” and make it more retail friendly, it’s enough guidance for the Planning Commission.

He noted all business downtown would be “grandfathered in” with changes to the ordinance.

“We’re probably going to have to present this to the downtown business owners,” he added. “They need to know this is possibly coming. People are going to want to rent their places, instead of boarding them up.”


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