Editor’s Note: We frequently hear some strange things about the Zoning Update. Some appear to be based on actual proposals we’ve made, but have been somewhat garbled or misheard—much like the old children’s game of “telephone”. The Office of Planning has started this “Myth vs. Fact” series as a way to clear up some of the confusion.
Myth: The Zoning Update would allow businesses like dry cleaners and funeral homes in residential zones.
Fact: No one is going to be able to establish a dry cleaner or funeral home in a residential zone. We have proposed a very limited set of permissions that would allow small-scale, neighborhood-serving commercial uses in rowhouse zones. These permissions have been narrowly tailored to allow businesses like a deli (but not a restaurant), a corner store (but not a large-scale grocery) or a shoe repair shop or florist. The proposal also would allow something like a valet service, where clothes could be dropped off and picked up, but any dry cleaning would have to be done off site.
We understand where some of the confusion has come from. We’re changing from a system where more than 600 individual uses are named and permitted in the old zoning code, to one where a set of some thirty broader categories of land uses describe everything that can be permitted. So when an early draft of the new code said that “Service” uses were permitted, some people might have gotten the wrong idea. Don’t worry! We’re clarifying this issue in the upcoming draft of the new code.
Interestingly, we’ve heard from some people that our proposal is actually too restrictive, and that they wouldn’t mind having a dry cleaner (for example) next door, if it meant more convenient services in the neighborhood, or that an old, vacant commercial building could be put back into use. But we want to go slowly with this proposal, and test it out with the types of businesses that are least likely to have negative impacts, and the most benefits for neighbors.
To learn more about our proposals for corner stores and similar uses, click here.
What kinds of businesses do you think should be allowed in rowhouse neighborhoods? Or, should we allow any at all?