Planning Commission recommends removing curb cut limits in non-residential areas

The zoning code enacted last August sets a limit on the size and number of curb cuts that let cars into and out of surface parking lots in all zoning districts: you can have one for both an entrance and exit of 24 feet wide, or two, 12 feet wide apiece. The point is to limit the impact of automobile activity on the pedestrian environment.

But the regulation has apparently been posing problems for commercial developments, and the Planning Commission on Thursday voted to approve a bill that would make that provision apply only to residential zoning districts. Some Commissioners worried that the total removal of curb cut regulations for non-residential districts was an overreaction to the safety concerns related to the limited curb cut sizes currently in the code. Alan Greenberger wondered whether the bill was akin to “shooting squirrels with major weapons.”

“We need to look out for the viability of sidewalks and the nature of these streets,” Greenberger said.

The regulation came into question at the last Commission meeting, when a bill was presented for a development of a Bottom Dollar grocery store at 9th and Girard. That project includes large curb cuts so that delivery trucks can enter and exit the parking lot safely.

In approving the bill, the Commission asked that the staff work to modify it, so that curb cuts over a certain size in commercial developments would still have to come before the Planning Commission for approval.

Commissioner Beth Miller voted against the bill.

“I don’t think we should approve it,” Miller said. “The Zoning Code Commission already went through that process.”  

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