Planning Commission Recap: Properties Recommended for Rezoning

The Lowell Planning Commission met for 25 minutes last night to discuss one piece of business. Commissioners Colin Plank and Mike Gadula were absent for the meeting, which was also attended by three members of the public.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Bill Schreur addressed the commission to ask which of the five city-owned parcels at the north end of Washington Street were designated as part of Scout Park.

Commissioners did not know offhand, but Chair Bruce Barker asked Andy Moore to investigate and respond to Schreur directly. Moore is a planning consultant to the city from the firm Williams & Works and joined last night’s meeting via the Zoom videoconferencing platform.

Under new business, the commission considered a request to rezone 803, 807 and 815 W. Main Street from the C-3 general business district to the C-1 neighborhood business district. All three parcels have houses on them, but residential properties are not allowed in the C-3 district.

That means these homes – which predate the current zoning – are considered legally non-conforming. As a result, people can live in them now, but if the house were ever to be destroyed, such as in a fire, it could not be legally rebuilt. That has made it difficult for homeowners to sell their properties since mortgage lenders are reluctant to issue loans for non-conforming parcels.

However, rezoning the properties to C-1 should resolve that issue. Residential homes are permitted in that zoning district, but it also leaves the door open for the properties to be used for commercial uses.

“It will make the lives of those property owners a little easier going forward,” Moore explained.

There were no public comments on the matter, and commissioners voted unanimously to recommend that Lowell City Council rezone the three properties to C-1. A final vote will be taken on the matter during a future council meeting.

During commissioner comments at the end of the meeting, Commissioner Tony Ellis asked about the status of the New Union Brewery parking lot. Commissioner Marty Chambers said it was discussed at the last city council meeting. When Ellis asked what could be done, Chambers replied that it was a question for the city attorney.

Commissioner Amanda Schrauben asked about the status of the Scooter’s Coffee that had been proposed for W. Main Street.

“They’re still having problems with their access,” City Clerk Sue Ullery said.

At earlier meetings, a representative from Scooter’s Coffee expressed doubt that MDOT would allow a curb cut to the property, and the owner of D&D Trucking – the adjacent property – did not seem inclined to let the coffee shop use his drive for access.

Barker questioned whether it was a denial of use of the property if MDOT would not allow a curb cut to the property. He also wondered how the previous property owners accessed the lot. Chambers said they had an easement with D&D Trucking, and Barker said that easement should stay with the property then.

Schrauben also asked about what appears to be shipping containers that have been in the parking lot in front of Tractor Supply Co. for some time now. Several commissioners replied that they thought the boxes were being used to store materials for a store remodeling project.

The meeting adjourned at 7:25pm. The next regular meeting of the Lowell Planning Commission will take place on Monday, September 12, at 7pm in Lowell City Hall.

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