City Council gave initial approval this week to a zoning amendment that would clearly define convenience stores, possibly making it harder for them to locate in some areas.
The change, if approved by a final council vote next month, could make it more difficult to establish a convenience store – which is exactly what some residents want, according to Diane Wiley, who spoke at a zoning public hearing Tuesday.
“I feel like, in our area, there are too many convenience stores,” said Wiley, president of the Belvedere Neighborhood Association, who has dogged the city to stop more convenience stores from cropping up in her area. “They come as a convenience store and end up being liquor stores. ... We’ve got one on every corner. I feel like this is an insult to our neighborhoods, and right now I’m tired of fighting. They need to change the zoning laws.”
Now, convenience stores are not expressly defined in the city zoning ordinance. The amendment would add convenience stores as a category of food store – along with grocery stores, fruit and vegetable markets, bakeries and miscellaneous – defined as “a retail store of 5,000 square feet or less in gross floor area, which carries a range of merchandise oriented to daily convenience and travelers’ shopping needs. These stores may be part of a gasoline service station or an independent facility.”
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As a condition for approval, an applicant who wants to establish a convenience store would have to adhere to a “Good Neighbor Plan,” which would include loitering and litter control programs, a pledge to comply with sign regulations, a crime prevention and awareness program and a neighborhood communication program.
Loitering and crime are some of the reasons why Wiley wants to see fewer convenience stores and more supervision of the ones that are in her neighborhood.
“They should be telling us why they want to come into our neighborhoods, not we go down there and fuss about why we don’t want them,” she said.
The final council vote on the amendment will be Dec. 2.