Fewer parking spaces for rentals?
Amendments to the Winona zoning code that city staff are calling "housekeeping" items would change parking rules across the city, reducing parking space requirements for many. Owner-occupied rentals and kitchen-free rentals — known as lodging establishments — would require fewer parking spaces in some cases. If one proposed lodging establishment fell under the new rules, it would be required to have 41 fewer parking spaces. City staff members said they do not know if the changes will affect existing rentals. "That's a good question," Assistant City Planner Carlos Espinosa said, when asked whether existing rentals could be held to old, in some cases stricter, parking requirements if the new, more relaxed ones were passed.
Parking requirements for owner-occupied rentals will change from one per potential certified resident (as determined by square footage) to one parking space per unit. Units housing two people would be required to have half as many parking spaces, Espinosa agreed.
Most significant, perhaps, are changes to parking at lodging establishments. Parking requirements for those businesses will drop from one parking space per potential certified resident (as determined by square footage) to .65 spaces for each certified resident (as determined by the certifying authority). Obviously, .65 is less than one, but the change from basing spaces on square footage to basing spaces on actual certified residents is also significant. In the case of a lodging establishment recently proposed by Bluff City Properties, that distinction makes a 36-parking-space difference. If that property fell under the new law (and was certified for the 17 people the company says it wants) it would need .65 parking spaces for 17 occupants, or 11.05 spaces. That is 41 fewer parking spaces than the 53 spaces city staff say it needs under current city code. The one aspect of the change that will tighten parking requirements is a proposal requiring lodging establishments to have on-site parking. Currently, parking can be up to 300 feet away. Visit www.winonapost.com for more information on the Bluff City Properties site plan review.
In a previous interview, Espinosa suggested that Bluff City Properties might be trying to race the new rules, getting their project proposal in before parking would be required to be on-site. However, how the new rules would affect parking for existing lodging establishments, including the two owned by Bluff City Properties, is unclear.
"It's changing some things, definitely, but it's housekeeping, basically, because we're clarifying issues with existing ordinance as written," Espinosa said. When asked if the changes would require less parking in some cases, Espinosa said, "I think you can make that determination on your own."
The so-called "housekeeping" amendments elicited criticism from several city council members at the group's last meeting, including several minutes of adamant opposition from city council member Michelle Alexander. In past discussions of parking requirements, city leaders have called for a comprehensive parking study to be done.
City to avoid referendum
The city announced plans to designate Lake Park and the municipal airport as industrial parks in order to avoid voter approval for $1.6 million in borrowing and over $1.7 million in new taxes two weeks ago. The council has yet to approve that borrowing and taxing, and a public hearing on extending industrial parks to include Lake Park and the airport is not scheduled till August. Despite the lack of public discussion of those issues by the council, city staff has asked the council to consider approving a $3.5 million bid for the first phase of the airport renovation project and a $387,000 bid for construction oversight of the project. For more information see article "No referendum for $1.6M 'industrial' bike path, airport" at www.winonapost.com.
Final vote on
In an informational meeting prior to the council's formal meeting, council members expect to hear from property owners in the B-2.5 district on what they think of changes that would block dense residential development and require off-street parking for the area around the condominium formerly owned by Dave McNally.
In the council's formal meeting, they will consider the proposed changes to the B-2.5 district, possibly for the last time. Staff proposed that if the council cannot decide, the moratorium blocking new development in the district should be extended.
The council will meet to discuss the B-2.5 district at 5:30 p.m. in the Wenonah Room in city hall and will have its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers.