Changes proposed for commercial zones
Cheney Planning Commission looks at parking, signage language prohibiting new billboards in review process
Several visiting Eastern Washington University urban planning students got a chance at Monday night’s Cheney Planning Commission meeting to hear what most – if not all – Cheney residents have shied away from: commission discussion of revisions to the city’s zoning codes.
The commission continued with its rapid review work in a workshop that covered eight chapters, two of which regarding neighborhood shopping centers and downtown commercial were deleted to form one new chapter – Commercial (C-1, C-2 and MX) Zones. Elements of other chapters have been incorporated into the new commercial section to maintain continuity, planner Brett Lucas told the commission, although there are new requirements inserted into the code governing commercial properties and structures in the city.
One new factor is the removal of building setbacks in the C-1, downtown commercial zone. Setbacks are retained in C-2, general commercial, and MX, mixed use, zones.
Maximum building heights have also been extended, 55 feet when residential use represents 50 percent of floor area exceeding 35 feet in C-1 and 45 feet when that residential use exceeds 100 percent in MX.
“We did that (in MX) for Holiday Inn if they wish to expand,” Lucas said.
Off-site parking must be at the back or interior of the space in MX, unless space prohibitive, and landscaping is required along adjacent roadways to screen the area.
“We’re recommending it be built in size and scale appropriate for the area,” Lucas added.
No changes other than formatting were done in the chapter on adult entertainment, although Commissioner Chris Grover requested an example of what might be allowed in Cheney, pointing to the former home of the Do-It-Best hardware store next to Pizza Hut in the Safeway plaza. Both Lucas and Public Works Director Todd Ableman said any adult entertainment shop would have to conform to existing regulations, including preventing locating within 1,000 feet of sensitive use areas such as schools, parks and churches. Commissioner Antoinette Burkley noted that the Nazarene Church was not far from Grover’s example.
“Just thinking about that,” Grover said. “There are some open buildings right now.”
Commissioners also reviewed a revised chapter on parking, including additions to parking around multi-family units. Current regulations require one parking spot per bedroom. The proposed regulations add flexibility to that by specifying number of spaces per dwelling unit, i.e. three spaces for a four-bedroom unit, etc.
Specifications were also included for parking at Eastern Washington University, something Lucas said the city did not have before. Parking in the RH (high residential) would be one space per three beds while in the P (public) zone it would be one space per six classroom seats on a three-year rolling average of student enrollment.
Lucas said these were merely guidelines as the university pretty much has control over parking on and around campus.
“It’s a way to help the university gauge (parking) as they expand,” he said.
Ableman said in developing the “college” guidelines they looked at examples from other college towns such as Bozeman, Moscow and Pullman – who had no regulations – to Ellensburg, which had some regulations similar to what Cheney is proposing.
“At least we have some kind of standard we can work with,” he said.
Finally, commissioners reviewed new language in the signage chapter, including language that move billboards under the prohibited use section. Lucas said the intent isn’t to remove existing billboards, but rather to make sure that if any or all of these are removed, either intentionally or by some type of accident, that they aren’t replaced.
“We just don’t want to see new ones going up,” he said. “We want to see the existing ones eventually go away.”
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.