Planning Commission To Consider Allowing Mixed Use Without Hearings

Planning Commission To Consider Allowing Mixed Use Without Hearings Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 12 November 2014 05:00

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CAROLINA BEACH  - The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission will consider a proposal at their November 13th, meeting to permit mixed-use commercial and residential developments without the need for a conditional use permit review process. According to Jeremy Hardison with the Town's Planning Department, Town Council directed staff to amend the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) requirement for mixed use residential/commercial buildings. Conditional Use Permits can be perceived as time consuming and costly with unknowns of approval outcomes and what conditions may be placed on a project.  Mixed use buildings are currently allowed by Conditional Use Permit (CUP) in the Mixed-Use MX, Central Business District CBD, Neighborhood Business NB, Highway Business HB, Marina Business MB, and Tourism T-1 zoning districts.
In a memo to the Planning Commission last week, Hardison explained, "The 2007 land Use plan and the Carolina Beach Master Development plan encourages mixed use developments that generate year round retail, commercial, entertainment and recreational activity and provides amenities. Mixed uses located in the CBD should be more pedestrian friendly and residential is encouraged if subordinate to a commercial use."
Hardison explained, "Mixed-use residential/commercial development has been in the ordinance since 2000. It requires commercial use on the first habitable floor. Mixed-use combines two or more types of land uses into a building or set of buildings that are physically and functionally integrated and mutually supporting. This can be some combination of residential, and commercial. Mixed-use areas often create a main street/downtown, activity center, or commercial corridor of a community.  Ideally mixed-use areas promote opportunities for different housing types, bicycle and pedestrian friendly destinations."
Hardison explained developers have expressed interest in building mixed-use developments in the Central Business District over the years.
Because the CBD area has a zero setback requirement allowing buildings to be built right up to the property line and parking requirements can be waived by the Town Council if a project can rely on public or private parking areas within 500 feet, lots in the CBD that do not have vehicular access would need to develop off-premise parking areas.
Hardison explained, "Residential uses are required to provide for parking. Knowing this, the CBD lots that do not have vehicular access would need to develop off-premise parking areas. Currently non-contiguous parking lots require a CUP.  This would need to be amended to keep the spirit of the amendment for mixed use structures to be permitted by right."
Hardison explained the Town's Master Development Plan addresses the following regarding parking and the overall design for the CBD:
1. Surface parking lots which are not well integrated or designed in a manner that supports the urban environment should be discouraged.
2. The Carolina Beach Master Development Plan encourages parking lots to be located outside the district.
3. Buildings should have pedestrian-oriented activities at ground level.
4. Encourages and promotes public/private partnerships and shared facilities to meet parking demand.
Hardison said to address parking in the CBD, the Planning Department came up with two options for the Planning Commission to consider.
One option is to create a Municipal Service District or implement Payment in lieu of parking policies. He explained  the pros of that option are: 
- Develops funding for maintenance and acquisition of future parking.
- It creates a public/private partnership to meet parking demands.
The not so positive aspects would be:
- The town does not have an overall plan on managing parking in the downtown area   that includes stakeholder input.
- Currently there is not a system or plan to collect and allocate revenues.
Another option is to continue to require off street parking for residential uses and waive the parking for commercial uses.
The positive aspects are:
- Let’s the developer decides how to design his site to meet the residential parking requirement.
- Assurance that the residents will have a designated place to park and will not be parking in public parking spaces.
The not so positive aspects are:
- Continuous waivers of parking in the CBD without a plan to maintain and increase     public parking will eventually result in a parking problem for our downtown area.
- The Town does not have a form based codes that addresses design standards on site layouts of where designated parking should be located and designed.
- Creates surface parking areas in the downtown area.
Hardison said Planning Department staff revised development standards to allow for small scale residential and commercial mixed use buildings to be permitted by right where mixed us residential and commercial are currently allowed to keep impacts at a minimal. Large scale development 25,000 square feet or larger and over 50’ feet in height would still require a Conditional Use Permit.  The Planning Commission will consider the proposal at their November 13th, meeting at 6:30PM at Town Hall in the Town Council meeting room at 1121 North Lake Park Blvd. Use the side entrance to access the meeting room.


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