City of Champaign Plan Commission met August 2.
City of Champaign Plan Commission met Aug. 2.
Here is the minutes provided by the Commission:
Meeting was called to order at 4:00 p.m.
Roll Call: Members Present: Cole, Bryan, Elmore, Dudley, Reynolds, Kroencke
Staff Present: Knight, Kowalski, Phillips, Yu, Marino, Trotter, Vandeventer, Oyeleke VanBuskirk
Staff is sworn
Minutes of July 5, 2017 & July 19, 2017 meetings are approved.
PL17-0033 Text Amendment to Article VII of the Champaign Municipal Code concerning Minimum Parking Requirements for Shopping Centers
VanBuskirk: This is a text amendment to amend the parking requirements for shopping centers. You received your information on Friday. Since that time additional concerns have been raised regarding this text amendment and some of its broader implications both in how this impacts our process for calculating parking but also doing our due diligence of notifying potentially impacted property owners beyond just advertising in the News Gazette.
Eric explains that he will present the case and talk a little bit about how we use this regulation and how we administer it and briefly talk about some of the additional concerns that were raised. The Commission was provided with a packet of information. We are asking that the Commission continue the case to a later date. Staff has set a target date of September 6, 2017. Knight: Explains that the goal today would be to have Eric present the case and hopefully get a discussion about any questions, comments or concerns the Plan Commission may have and continue the case while staff works on refining the language to address the additional concerns.
VanBuskirk: Shopping centers are regulated by the Zoning Code. The definition of what a shopping center is defined as is explained. An aerial of 109 W. John Street (will be used as an example throughout the presentation) is shown as an example to how we regulate parking spaces in shopping centers.
The current required parking calculations are explained. He also explains how each tenant use affects the calculation. When a new shopping center is being built the building plans would indicate which areas are tenants spaces and the anticipated uses of these spaces. They can be general uses such as retail, office, etc.
Eric shows the example of 109 W. John and explains what the tenants are in this building and explains how the calculations would be done using this property as an example. How the change of tenants affects the regulatory requirements for parking at the shopping center. He also explains how a change in tenant that requires more parking than is currently provided on the lot could affect the ability for the shopping center to have this tenant go into an empty tenant space. But, we are also seeing in locations where a number of these shopping centers are not compliant with our regulations that there doesn’t seem to be a shortage in parking.
He explains how this has effected property owner’s ability to lease empty space in their buildings due to the parking regulations. He explains that the goal of this text amendment is to simplify the regulations.
He explains that a land use analysis was done on a sample of properties in the community where there could potentially be issues with parking. The data showed that half of the sampled properties did not meet the requirements with the current uses. Staff did not go back and see what was originally approved. The current usage of the properties are not compliant. Knight: Adds that is due to tenant changes that do not require a building permit. Staff would not know that the tenants has changed.
VanBuskirk: One of the issues that was raised is how will the proposed changes impact not just the uses sampled but all shopping centers in the city. The proposed text amendment strikes a compromise. We increased the requirement for shopping centers more so than what a normal retail use would be to accommodate those higher intensity uses. We no longer require them to factor in individual tenant uses into the total parking requirement. This essentially is creating a flat standards ratio between building size and parking on-site. What was brought up afterward was the provision in the Code for collective parking requirements that allow commercial users that are both on the same site or adjacent to share parking if the mix of uses peak times don’t conflict. We have found that this isn’t a very practical way to handle this and we can’t find any instances of this being successfully utilized. Many of the uses that are mixing together in these shopping centers have the same peak hour time. They don’t get to take advantage of this provision. It used to be that there was a flat reduction in parking required if you had provisions for shared parking. The second question is by increasing the ratio, which effectively requires more parking, are we making compliant shopping centers nonconforming. Unfortunately, although we did do a sampling and it did alleviate the nonconformity in all but one which is currently nonconforming anyway. We can’t confidentially say that the requirement is going to make others nonconforming if we didn’t include them in the sampling. We have some legal concerns about them and being able to adequately notify them of the regulatory change. Knight: If you have a shopping center that happens to be all retail right now then their total requirement, taking all the individual uses together, is one space per 300 square feet. We are now saying it will be 1 space per 250 square feet which would help them if they wanted to add a restaurant later on. But, as it stands now if they are right at that requirement it would potentially make them nonconforming. VanBuskirk: I will add that in cases where we do have all retail shopping centers, the cases in the study, have on-site parking well above what is required. Even though we are concerned that we could be changing the requirement and making them nonconforming in most cases it is not going to be a problem because often times they have provided much more than they were required to. We need to make sure that we can confidentially say that we have notified them about the change.
As a result we have decided to make this more of a Study Session format and get the Commissions feedback and would ask that you continue the public hearing to the September 6, 2017 Plan Commission meeting. I am can answer any questions.
Knight: One other option that you might consider is the staff time it might take to go out and identify every shopping center and count the number of spaces they have and determine if they should be notified or not. Another option would be to have a provision in the Code that states that this applies going forward and for anything that already exists what they have is what they have and that is fine. If they have more or less than the market will determine if it is enough. We think it is a low risk proposition to go this route. That may be another option. In that case we don’t have to notify everyone since we have excluded them from the potential change.
Elmore: Bruce, I appreciate you bringing that up because in a couple of the example the obvious question is if you tell someone you are now nonconforming and they are totally land locked what are they supposed to do? Another point I was going to make is some of the larger centers have way too much parking and they only use it one time a year but there is also places that are landlocked and can’t go anywhere to add parking. There is a huge diversity of issue.
VanBuskirk: In the example it was originally built to be all contractors shops, which is one of our lowest parking ratio’s and today’s end users are not contractors shops. This is the challenge of going into a shopping center and having the uses change. Elmore: The 109 West John center you gave a totally number of spaces with four individual tenants in the complex. How do you address that the total parking spaces for the complex are okay but depending upon how close the spaces have to be to an individual business might one of them be out of compliance? VanBuskirk: Shopping centers that have spaces that are shared don’t have assigned spaces anyone can use any parking space for any business. He uses Village at the Crossing as an example and explains how the shared parking works. Elmore: We need a pretty clear definition of what a shared parking accommodation is. Knight: The mall is a good example I want to go to a certain retail store but there are no parking spaces near it and I park at the other end. This is an acceptable practice if parking is shared for the entire center.
Knight: Explains how parking covenants work and that this parking needs to be within 500 feet of the business asking for the covenant.
Reynolds: What prompted this? Is it we don’t have enough parking at these centers? I didn’t realize that you changed the parking requirements as tenants changed. VanBuskirk: Explains how this work and how it can affect the landowner’s ability to fill a space with a tenant who might require more parking from a regulatory standard. Reynolds: Will this increase the parking requirement at most places. VanBuskirk: It could but, we feel it will decrease the requirement in a lot of places. Eric gives detail on how the calculations will work. Reynolds: When we did the parking in the University area the rational was that we could depend on the developers to know how much parking they feel they need. Why aren’t we using this same method.? VanBuskirk: The conversation in regard to the Campustown or the city center concept of not requiring parking or allowing market forces to handle the parking demand was for that specific area. We haven’t really decided if that is appropriate city wide. It is certainly plausible that it is something we could support. It was a very large undertaking that has much wider implications that what we are talking about with just shopping centers.
Knight: Explains that the University District is very different and most of the clients are not driving or if they are driving their cars are parked remotely and they will probably not be using their car to get to a destination within the university center. They would use them to go to remote locations. I think Eric is right as we move down the line of continuing to analyze our parking requirement and think about how they apply. I can see us moving gradually in that direction. You raise a valid point is 1 to 250 or 1 to 300 an appropriate number? The other possibility is to improve the shared parking provision and make it actually work and then people could use that to lower their number. This is why we wanted to delay this and make sure we have adequately addressed all the concerns.
Reynolds: Especially if you are talking about grandfathering in all the existing which makes total sense. If its just going forward. We want to increase the parking requirements going forward for new strip malls. VanBuskirk: Explains how the requirements would work for new shopping center. We feel a slight increase in the ratio be required to accommodate a change in use in the future and not require that every time a change happens to reevaluate the parking for the new use. Knight: Explains that property owners want restaurant. Phillips: We believe that the drop to 250 will actually lower the requirement in the shopping centers. It seems as though it is raising the requirement but, because there are individual places that now have the requirement of 1 to 150 this would actually lower the requirement. Historically, over time we have flattened some of our requirements. He explains how specific uses have been made less complicated and how this will simplify the Code to make it less complicated but still make sure we have enough to make the system work. We are working towards that as opposed to trying to raise the requirements.
Cole: We are trying awfully hard to plan for uses that we cannot predict. I understand that this is trying to give more flexibility or in fact no flexibility. Come up with an answer that simply addresses our problems all the time without having to make further determinations of what is going to work. Don’t market forces dictate what the uses will be and what can be in spaces that will support it? I don’t want to sound to libertarian. I believe in some regulation but I believe I would identify with the Councilmember who likes the idea of why regulate this. In Downtown and Campustown I know that one of the rationales for allowing the developers their own say in determining many parking space are needed was because we want to discourage vehicular traffic in Campustown which makes perfect sense. But, the direction is really to turn it over to the property owner and let them decide what they want to do. I can imagine any of the owners of these shopping centers looking at the space that is available and saying to themselves you know I have room for a restaurant or no I don’t. Let them make their own decisions. That means that rather than try to decide how many nails to put into that strip of wood so that it stays in place.
Don’t fasten it to anything we don’t have to. I know that is rather off the cuff as an opinion goes. I would like to hear more discussion about simply letting it go. Knight: You are suggesting that a new shopping center that is proposed would have no parking regulations? Cole: No, there has to be some regulation. Knight: What we are writing here is designed for what is new and walks in the door after we adopt this. That’s why we have to figure out how we address the tight areas that are already out there. Cole: We may address this by the area size or development size. When you say that particular uses right now can be grandfathered in that doesn’t mean that those property owners won’t change the uses. If they are going to change the uses does that mean that now they are now coming up against this particular regulation? Knight: We need to work through that but, I think our intent would be to say no it would still be a flat number if it is a permitted use in that district and you have the parking you have that it can go in there. Cole: If you are in a certain district and your property is of a certain size that may be one approach. Just address developments by their potential and let certain smaller areas, like the examples, let them go.
Elmore: You didn’t think you have ever seen a plan for a shopping center that didn’t have at least one space intended restaurant. And with all these shopping centers is it is fair to say that the larger ones on the outskirts generally exceed, sometimes far exceed, the parking requirements. Clearly, they are not doing that because of what the parking requirement may is. They are doing it for their own reasons and those are market forces.
VanBuskirk: In going back to the idea that some of the smaller shopping centers have, over time, gone out of compliance. Some of these have been rezoned to require no parking. This will hold to the incremental change that overtime a shopping center that was maybe on the edge of town at one time, has had a market change, and now no parking should be required because it will adjust itself with the market. But, is that what is appropriate on Mattis and Springfield? It is not the same type of neighborhood, it is not the same type of design, these sorts of things factor into why certain locations need less parking than others.
Elmore: One possibility that would be very interesting sort of argues in favor of having some regulations and I think they would accommodate Commissioner Coles concerns. For example, Round Barn has far more parking than needed. If you reduced that requirement or opened it up somehow there is the possibility that it could encourage somebody to develop additional space that was formerly reserved because of the parking requirement. I can see a number of places where this could potentially happen. Knight: Explains how the process worked when Panera wanted to build in the parking lot of Old Farm. He explains how maybe a few days a year there would be no parking but most of the time there is not an issue.
Cole: I like the way the planning is done but I still question whether or not the owner of the shopping center can’t keep all that in mind when proposing a tenant or proposing the number of spaces they think are going to be required. How many of these problems do we need to spend time trying to resolve. Many of them are really not that solvable on a permanent basis. Knight: Part of our idea on this is when a new shopping center is proposed what is the flat number of parking spaces we need built and later when the uses changes we will not require more parking and let the market will decide if they can accommodate the use.
Reynolds: I would like to see shopping centers that are full all the time and not see the centers that are empty and have tons of empty pavement. I think we should have parking lots that are full as opposed to those that are empty.
Dudley: What affect would this have in the Curtis Road area? Knight: It doesn’t have any effect on what is being built right now. I suppose when they do their retail center for that development it could play into that. Kowalski: Explains that this area has a mechanism to not allow overparking to be built. It might not have to build as much parking as is now required in the Code. Knight: The Curtis road area will probably have a lot more pedestrian traffic due to the nature of the development. The more we have of mix of uses the more we have of mixes of activity the more likely it is that are parking requirements are higher than they need to be.
Dudley: Any other questions or comments?
Cole: I move that we close the public hearing. Bryan: Seconds. Unanimous “yes” vote.
Cole I move that we continue the public hearing to the September 6, 2016 Plan Commission meeting. Bryan: Seconds. Unanimous “yes” vote.
Adjourned to 4:43