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Mount Carmel zoning proposal reverses 2009 'retail only' restrictions on Main Street

March 2nd, 2014 4:08 pm by Jeff Bobo

Mount Carmel zoning proposal reverses 2009 'retail only' restrictions on Main Street

Mount Carmel planning adviser Ken Weems explains proposed zoning changes to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday evening. (photo by Jeff Bobo)

MOUNT CARMEL — Proposed zoning changes would reverse a 2009 ordinance which made all of Mount Carmel’s Main Street frontage property zoned for retail businesses only.

Mount Carmel planning adviser Ken Weems presented the Board of Mayor and Aldermen with a major zoning change proposal for both of the town’s east/west highways during the regular monthly meeting this past Tuesday evening.

Among those proposals was the creation of an “MX1” zone which would be applied to almost all of Main Street.

Weems explained that MX1 would expand new uses on Main Street beyond the current B-2 “retail only” and allow new office buildings and professional services are currently not allowed.

Only a small section of Main Street in the center of town would remain B-2.

The 2009 Main Street rezoning wasn’t popular with some property owners who resented having future used of their property restricted to retail sales only.

The driving force behind the change was former mayor Gary Lawson who wanted to reserve new development of Mount Carmel’s limited potential sales tax earning property for retail sales only.

The idea was to prevent future uses of all Main street frontage from including new residential developments, banks, medical services and other professional services which don’t generate sales tax revenue.

Existing Main Street businesses and residences were “grandfathered” in.

Weems explained that retail business development would still be encouraged on Main Street, but the new MX1 zone broadens the scope of potential future development.

“It's everything you’ve got now, plus more,” Weems said. “It's no more restrictive than what you have now.”

Weems also presented potential changes that will change areas of West Carters Valley Road currently zoned R-1 (single family residential/agricultural) to B-1 and more business friendly.

"We're looking at the potential of coming back 200 feet off of West Carters Valley Road and looking at a B-1 district. A B-1 district is an individual business/commercial district. Either a B-1, or what we're referring to as an MX2 district which doesn't exist for the town right now.”

MX2 is the same as MX1, Weems explained, except it also allows multi-family residential uses such as apartments and condos.

Weems was going to be meeting with Mayor Larry Frost last week to discuss the best way to "pitch" these proposals to the property owners.

"When the word zoning comes about, some people tend to get a little uneasy, especially when its rezoning,” Weems said. “Public involvement — and property owner involvement and understanding of what's going on — I think is paramount to having a successful rezoning."

The proposal will be presented to the Planning Commission for a recommendation before going to the BMA for final approval.

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