Crestwood rewrites its zoning code; makes changes to zoning citywide, but especially along Watson Road

List of businesses banned from redevelopment area

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Photo by Erin Achenbach

The sign at Scott Credit Union in Crestwood along Watson Road.

By Erin Achenbach, Staff Reporter

Crestwood has a new zoning code approved by the Board of Aldermen earlier this year that changes how the city handles zoning issues.

Aldermen unanimously passed the revamped zoning code Jan. 12, the culmination of an ongoing project since 2018 between the city and planning firm Peckham Guyton Albers and Viets.

The Planning and Zoning Commission formally adopted the draft ordinance from PGAV last year, beginning with the sign code.

The most significant revisions change zoning powers and create a special zoning district along Watson Road, known as the “Watson Road Overlay.” The new overlay district will apply to zoning for the redevelopment of the former Crestwood mall site proposed by Dierbergs and McBride Homes.

Public hearings for most developments will now take place at the planning panel instead of the Board of Aldermen. The commission is also now the approving authority for major site plans, but aldermen have appeal and power of review up to five days after the decision.

Similarly, “minor site plans” will also be reviewed by staff and approved by the planning panel. Aldermen will have appeal and review power. “Minor site plans” are unique to the new code and didn’t exist under the original city code. Staff was originally slated to be the approving authority on minor site plans under one of the first drafts, but aldermen gave that power to the planning commission.

The Board of Aldermen will remain the decision-making authority for text amendments, zoning map amendments, preliminary development plans and conditional-use permits, but public hearings for the first three will only be held at the planning commission. For CUPs, both boards will hold public hearings. Final development plans will be approved by staff since they do not have “much additional detail” compared to preliminary plans approved by aldermen, said Crestwood City Planner Cassie Harashe. That speeds up zoning.

If a final development plan comes back that does not meet the conditions set in the approved preliminary plan, or if any conditions for the final development plan are not met, staff cannot approve any final development plan without aldermen.

The new “Watson Road Overlay District” in the code is designed to make that commercial corridor more pedestrian friendly and attractive. One of the goals is to eventually create 10-foot sidewalks on both sides of Watson to encourage pedestrian use. Current sidewalks are 5 feet across.

“We’re trying to create this kind of wide, tree-lined — therefore buffered — pedestrian corridor with buildings moved up closer to Watson,” said Harashe. “The parking areas and seating plazas will kind of be behind the buildings — less visible — so you don’t drive down Watson (and) see these seas of parking.”

A portion of the old code, “Uses Prohibited near Redevelopment Areas,” was carried over at the request of most aldermen, with Ward 3 Alderman Scott Shipley and Ward 1 Alderman Mimi Duncan opposed.

The following uses are prohibited within 300 feet of any area designated by Crestwood or a redevelopment authority as a blighted area or redevelopment area:  Sexually oriented businesses; automotive sales, rentals and leases; beer, wine, distilled alcoholic beverage merchant wholesalers and liquor stores; retail outlets with greater than 10,000 square feet of space that specialize in wine and other spirits are permitted; pawn shops; payday loan and other similar short-term loan establishments; thrift or secondhand stores, unless charitable; and retailers with buy-out or liquidation merchandise.

The list of prohibited uses also banned taverns, but taverns were removed at the request of Ward 4 Alderman Ismaine Ayouaz in December. Aldermen unanimously agreed with Ayouaz to remove taverns from the banned list.