Council holds public hearing on Railtown zoning changes

Following the hearing, council adopted the changes

On March 19 Nelson City Council held a public hearing on proposed zoning changes at Railtown, then later voted in favour of the changes.

The purpose of the zoning, according to council, is to encourage mixed use development and live-work development as envisioned in the Official Community Plan as well as in the city’s Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan for Railtown completed last year.

The zoning amendment created a new zone, C4 (Railtown Commercial Zone) that encompasses the Railtown portion of Baker Street and a piece undeveloped land beyond it to the west. Zoning maps are attached below.

The C4 land was formerly zoned MU3 (Railtown Mixed Use Residential and Commercial) and MU4 (Waterfront Mixed Use Industrial and Commercial). A large portion of Railtown outside of the extension of Baker Street will remain MU3 and MU4.

The Railtown district is bordered by Highway 3A, Government Road, Cottonwood Falls, and the CPR railway tracks and includes the renovated CPR station.

New permitted uses in the C4 zone include art gallery and museum, animal daycare, broadcasting studios, car wash, care services, commercial school, craft brewery/distillery, custom indoor manufacturing, early childhood development centre, entertainment facility, funeralhome, health services, liquor primary establishment, live/work, mechanical repair service and sales, mobile food vendor, mobile retail vendor, multi-unit residential, neighbourhood pub, off-street parking (subject to new rules), indoor participant recreation services, personal service establishment, printing and publishing establishment, professional and business offices, public administration, public assembly, market, restaurant, retail store, social services centre, tourist accommodation, veterinary clinic.

There were a number of conditions placed on some of these uses, the most significant one being parking, the goal being to avoid large parking lots. So the new zoning requires that off-street parking for businesses in the C4 zone cannot be located in front of the building.

A maximum of 50 per cent of the gross floor area of a building at street level may be used for off-street parking. Also, in multi-use residential dwellings, the number of off-street parking spaces required can be reduced by 50 per cent. There are also special rules for spaces for car co-op vehicles.

Other conditions for the C4 zone include:

Animal daycare use must be within an enclosed building. Commercial storage is permitted when accessory to a permitted use. Accessory commercial storage use cannot occupy more than 50 per cent of the gross floor area of the building, and may not be located to have direct street frontage.

Exterior, unenclosed storage or goods or materials is not permitted. Car wash use must be completely enclosed within a building. Mechanical repair service and sales must be conducted indoors. Storage of vehicles for sale must be located indoors.

There are also stipulations about lot coverage, setbacks, and building height in the C4 zone. These can be found attached to the online version of this story at nelsonstar.com.

All of the above-described stipulations about permitted use apply only to the new C4 zone and not to existing buildings in the other zones in Railtown which are MU3 (Railtown Mixed Use – Residential & Commercial Zone); MU4 (Waterfront Mixed Use – Industrial & Commercial Zone); I1 (Institutional Zone) and P1 (Park, Open and Recreational Space Zone).

Related:

Nelson council proposes zoning changes for Railtown (February, 2018)

Nelson council approves Railtown development plan (December, 2016)

Nelson citizens present new ideas for Railtown (February, 2016)

At the public hearing on March 19, ten people spoke.

One expressed concern that the rezoning could open up big box store development. Planning consultant Dave Wahn said a large shopping centre could be built in that area now, and that new zoning would limit opportunities for that and encourage smaller development.

Three speakers were Railtown business owners outside the C4 zone, upset that they might have to build housing on top of or in place of their business. They said they were concerned they were being pushed out. Planner Pam Mierau told them their businesses are outside the zoning changes and will not be affected.

Architect Graeme Leadbeater, appearing on behalf of the Magio family that owns a large piece of land on the west end of Railtown, expressed support for the rezoning. Referring to the overall goal of mixed use and avoiding a big box approach, Ledbeater said, “We think the amendments area-appropriate. We are completely behind them and will give the private sector an incentive to develop according to the Railtown plan.”

One speaker expressed concern about the future of Cottonwood Park, which is outside the area affected by the zoning changes.

One person was concerned that the changes were railroaded through.

Realtor Tad Lake, represented a warehousing business, was concerned that the business’ insurance rates might go up because warehousing is not included in the list of approved uses in the new zoning. (Council later amended the requirements by including warehousing in the list of permitted uses.)

One downtown business owner expressed support for the plan.

There was considerable misunderstanding among some members of the public and Councillor Bob Adams about some of the maps presented to council by its planning department. There were maps showing zoning, and maps of the same area showing the intended uses set out the Official Community Plan (OCP). City manager Kevin Cormack explained that the Official Community Plan was an overall vision created some years ago and it is considered a guidance document. Some of the new zoning is slightly different from the uses outlined in the OCP. The public hearing was about amendments to both the zoning and the OCP.

The materials presented to the public including maps are attached below.



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

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