DATE:             September 18, 2001

TO:                  Planning Commission

FROM:           Chris Beanes, Planner
                        Community Development Department

FILE NO.:      TXT2001-00004

PROPOSAL: An ordinance (Serial No. 2001-16) to amend the Land Use Code to allow greater square footage for convenience stores based upon bonus amenities provided by the applicant. In addition, landscape requirements have been added to allow buffering between incompatible land uses.

BACKGROUND

This ordinance applies to the review of convenience stores located in the areas designated on the Convenience Store Use Area Overlay Map adopted as part of the Land Use Code in 1987. These overlay districts were adopted as the means of implementing the Neighborhood Commercial areas designated in the Comprehensive Plan. The current ordinance does not allow for convenience stores larger than 3,000 square feet. The amended ordinance allows for a base maximum of 2,500 square feet of gross floor area, but a potential for 5,000 square feet of gross floor area with the addition of pedestrian-oriented site development through bonus amenities in 500-1000 square foot increments. Minimum landscape requirements have also been added to allow for a buffer between residential and commercial (convenience store) uses.

The existing ordinance is to regulate convenience stores in the mapped convenience store use areas. The review procedure is through the conditional use permit procedure, as well as a traffic analysis. The standards address limitations on floor area, possible accessory uses, vehicle access, height, signage, and parking. The review procedure and traffic analysis requirements have not been revised. The new standards offer more flexibility, consistency, and mitigation in locating a commercial project in a neighborhood commercial zone.

The current convenience store ordinance was implemented in September 1987. Currently no provision in the convenience store ordinance allows for a larger convenience store footprint. No standards exist to guide the applicant to provide for buffering between residential and commercial properties. Furthermore, pedestrian amenities are not addressed in the current ordinance. Text has been changed and added for consistency, clarity of language, and avoidance of redundancy. A convenience store definition will be added to the definitions section of the Land Use Code. In addition, the Table of Permissible Uses (TPU) has been changed as detailed under the Analysis section.

The need for a larger convenience store footprint has prompted revisions to the convenience store ordinance. At the same time, other aspects of the convenience store ordinance can be revisited and changes can be made to the ordinance, which are beneficial and consistent with the desired character of the neighborhood and zone. For these reasons, the convenience store ordinance is being amended and brought forward for Planning Commission and Public review.


ANALYSIS

The following is a summary of the changes that are being proposed to each section of the existing land use code concerning convenience store use.

Purpose
The purpose statement has been clarified for reference to the convenience store use area overlay maps located within the official zoning maps.

Applicability
The language of this section has been clarified to note that the convenience store ordinance regulations apply to projects within the convenience store use area mapped locations.

Standards
A number of the standards address the conflict between residential and commercial land uses. Physical separation and screening have been added as standard requirements for convenience store development. Incompatible components of convenience stores in residential zones have been addressed, including gas pumps and liquor sales.

This amendment prohibits gasoline sales and drive-through services in the convenience store use areas. The intent of the Neighborhood Commercial zone is to promote local orientation. The uses are limited in intensity to promote local orientation to limit adverse impacts on nearby residential areas. In addition drive-through facilities are allowed in the zones which are intended for auto accommodating development. They are not consistent with or supportive of areas where the desired character is pedestrian-oriented development. This interpretation of the intent of the neighborhood commercial zone is consistent with the various local ordinances, which were researched, and upon local conditions.

In addition a maximum 50% gross floor area allowed has regulated liquor sales. The previous ordinance did not regulate the size of the liquor retail component. Gross floor area is limited to 2,500 square feet, down from the current 3,000 square feet, however the floor area may be increased through new bonus amenities at 500 square foot increments, explained below, under "Bonus Provisions".

There are landscaping standards that address required buffering along property lines. The language is consistent with Title 4 landscaping standards. The landscaped buffer requirements have been added because the intensity of commercial development impacts adjacent residential development, requiring mitigation. The buffer serves as a visual, noise and lighting screen between uses.

Other items pertaining to the exterior site improvements which have been added to the standards section:

Bonus Provisions
The application for extra square footage for the convenience store project based upon adding bonus provisions is not an automatic approval item in the conditional use permit process. The added provisions would be reviewed through the conditional use permit procedure for applicability based on unique site conditions and effectiveness. There are potential bonus provision items that allow gross floor area to be increased in 500-1,000 square foot increments. Two of the six items in the bonus provisions section earns 1,000 square feet, based on the weight of the provision that is being provided. A combination of the bonuses can add to a maximum total of 2,500 square feet. For example, the developer may choose to include covered bicycle parking with a rack, for a 500 square foot bonus. Adding a transit-related improvement in the vicinity of the site can attain an additional 1,000 square feet. Additionally, if the developer restricts the amount of retail alcohol sales to less than 1,500 square feet in floor area, another 1,000 square feet is awarded. The total of these three bonuses in this example adds to a potential extra 2,500 square feet through the bonus provisions section of this ordinance and the conditional use permit process.

Staff has reviewed approximately 10 local ordinances regarding convenience stores and found that convenience stores range in size from 2,500-5000 square feet. We believe the range from 2,500-5,000 square feet is consistent with ordinances from comparable-sized cities. In addition, the range reflects the local convenience store market, from a low of 1,000 square feet, to a high of 10,089 square feet, with an average of 2,600 square feet. Impacts to the neighborhood from a larger store footprint will be mitigated by the addition of bonus amenities, which, among other things, provides for more landscaping to soften the appearance of the building and serve as an increased buffer, pedestrian amenities, and a reduced liquor component footprint.

New Definition in Land Use Code and change to the Table of Permissible Uses (TPU)
The last items of change associated with the ordinance revisions are an amendment to the Land Use Code to include a convenience store definition in the definitions section of the code, and a clarification of the Table of Permissible Uses (TPU) regarding convenience stores. The TPU has been changed to refer convenience store applicants to the appropriate convenience store section of the code, as well as deletion of subscript numbers reflecting convenience store regulations apply only to those areas mapped in the convenience store use area maps. A convenience store use in a commercial zoning district would be treated as any other retail use and not be limited by this code section.


COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

Applicable sections of the Comprehensive Plan address convenience stores:

Policy 5.3 reads:

It is the policy of the CBJ to minimize conflicts between residential areas and commercial/industrial areas through appropriate land use locational decisions and regulatory measures.

In particular, policy 5.3.2 guides us for further consideration:

Maintain, and consider enhancing land use code requirements for buffering and screening

Between residential and commercial/industrial uses and careful review of site development plans

Policy 5.7 reads:

It is the policy of the CBJ to encourage limited neighborhood commercial uses in new neighborhoods and in appropriate areas in existing neighborhoods.

In addition, sub policy 5.7.1 reads:

Maintain provisions in the Land Use Code for neighborhood commercial developments such as convenience grocery stores, which include standards and limitations governing allowable uses, traffic, buffering, hours of operation.


RECOMMENDATION

We recommend that the Planning Commission recommend to the Assembly the adoption of TX2001-0004, Ordinance Serial No. 2001-16, an ordinance amending the Land Use Code standards for convenience stores.