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May 21, 2017

C-4 Re-Zone. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

Pure Midway’s position on the C-4 Re-Zone is mixed. It is impossible to understand the final outcome until the City completes the very crucial Master Plan process for this zone. The C-4 Zoning Hearing at City Council is next Wednesday, May 24th and we encourage everyone to attend that meeting. For more facts on C-4 read our earlier Facebook posts. The C-4 Zone doesn’t necessarily include the Arts Center so our position does not address the Arts Center. Here is our take:

The Good

Density Trade
There is a trade for density on the rest of Main Street being made for upzoning the smaller residential parcel by Memorial Hill. This corrects potentially disastrous density zoning on the rest of Main Street. Could City Council correct this zoning issue without C-4? Probably. Would they? Unlikely. This is a trade-off. Pure Midway’s position is that the density reduction is desirable but we need to be mindful of what is being given up in exchange for what is being granted.

Master Plan, Transportation Plan & Trails Plan
The C-4 Zone requires a transportation plan and trails plan which is positive. It also allows the Planning Commission to stop any development that is inconsistent with the intent of the C-4 Zone or the General Plan, which is a helpfully broad definition. Finally, it requires a much more detailed Master Plan that allows for public input. Pure Midway supports the Master Planning, Transportation & Trails Planning elements of the C-4 Zone.

The Bad

Density
The C-2 zone which comprises about 2/3 of the area being rezoned allows for 20 units per acre. That is dense. We can’t think of any full acre in Midway that has built to that density. The C-4 Zone will allow for 30 units per acre. That is unnecessarily dense and will create traffic and other issues. There is no reasonable policy argument that can be made to support that kind of density in a rural, agricultural community.
Pure Midway’s position is that the C-4 Zone should reflect the C-2 Zone and be 20 units per acre – or less.

Height
The C-2 Zone allows for 35 feet which is about 2 ½ stories. The C-4 Zone allows for 55 feet which is 4 stories with a pitched roof. Summit County Code does not allow any building over 32 feet (except in Service Commercial or SPA zoning as part of a conditional use permit process). There is no reasonable policy argument that can be made to support little Midway allowing heights far greater than are allowed in Summit County. If one special building, such as the Arts Center, needs a height variance, then the City can make an exception and discuss granting the height variance.
Pure Midway’s position is that the C-4 Zone should reflect the C-2 Zone and have a height restriction of 35 feet – or less.

Footprint
The building footprint is unlimited. This means that under the allowed uses a Super Wal-Mart or huge strip center could be placed in this location.
Pure Midway’s position is that building footprints should absolutely be smaller than 8,000 square feet.

Point System
Developers can now get points for certain uses/amenities and open space. Theoretically, they could get 20 points for the Arts Center and 35 points for a 3 screen movie theater. There is no requirement that Art Center be placed in the C-4 Zone. Theoretically, the zone could have a 3 screen movie theater, a convenience store, a strip center shopping mall, and a super Wal-Mart. Pure Midway’s position is that the Point System should not reward a movie theater with 35 points.

The Ugly

Vague Architectural Guidelines
The C-4 Architectural Guidelines are very weak which allows almost any kind of building to be constructed in this zone. Pure Midway’s position is that the Architectural Guidelines need to be much more specific and detailed in the Master Plan.

Almost No Open Space Requirements
The C-4 Zone only requires a one acre plaza and if the entire zone isn’t developed that requirement goes to ½ acre. Pure Midway’s position is that C-4 should require that at least 25% of the developed area remains open space and the point system can apply toward any open space once that requirement is met. Summit County Code now requires 25% open space in all of their commercial zones, except Neighborhood Commercial which has a 60% open space requirement. There is no reasonable explanation for approving less open space in Midway than in Summit County. If the developer wants to purchase contiguous open space elsewhere in the City in exchange for the required open space in C-4 then Pure Midway would support that effort depending on the details.

Respect for Memorial Hill
Pure Midway believes the C-4 Zone or the Master Plan absolutely must take into account the historic significance of Memorial Hill. It should not minimize or cheapen the importance of that crucial landmark with a development less than worthy of the people who gave their lives in service to our country.

Overall Pure Midway is not certain what is driving the rapid pace of the C-4 zone change. Pure Midway continues to believe that this needs to be a slow, careful, methodical process where care is given to explore and prevent the worst case scenario instead of hoping for the best case scenario. Pure Midway is advocating for a hold on this zone change to give the Council, Planning Commission and community time to carefully think through all of the ramifications of this change. If it is the intent of Council and Commission to do so as part of the Master Plan process, then Pure Midway supports the Master Planning process and advocates for the Master Plan to be very detailed, specific and in the spirit of maintaining Midway’s heritage as a beautiful rural community.

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