By Mark Carlisle for Independent Newsmedia
Litchfield Park’s Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council are considering what types of businesses and other land uses to permit in the planned downtown City Center project.
By the end of the year, City Council will take action on new general plan and zoning designations that will outline allowed land uses and design guidelines for the planned downtown commercial and entertainment center. By law, any major general plan amendment must be acted on by City Council in the same calendar year it is proposed.
Planning consultant Jason Sanks said the general plan designation creates a basis of the vision for City Center and the zoning district creates more specific guidelines for what types of businesses should be allowed and design themes for the project.
The Planning & Zoning Commission’s public hearing on City Center general plan and zoning designation is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, October 9th with Tuesday, November 12th as a backup date. City Council has tentatively scheduled a public hearing on the issue for Wednesday, November 20th with an optional second meeting Wednesday, December 18th to ensure any action is taken before the end-of-year deadline.
The City Center designations would apply to 29 acres that includes City Hall and vacant, city-owned land around City Hall. The site is bordered by Fairway Drive to the north, Wigwam Boulevard to the south, Litchfield Road to the west and Old Litchfield Road to the east.
It’s long been the city’s vision to create a downtown center. A plan was created in 1996 for a “Village Center” downtown that never came to fruition. By adopting new general plan designation and zoning districts, the city will also repeal the 1996 plans for the formerly proposed Village Center.
Litchfield Park has been revisiting plans for the City Center in the past three years. City Council accepted tentative plans for the project from a planning and consultant group, Destination LP, in May. As part of that process, staff realized a new general plan designation and zoning district would be necessary.
City Council has already OK’d funding for several initial projects for City Center’s construction, mostly road improvements, such as extending Village Parkway through the site. While most design ideas are still tentative, City Council has also approved funding for one aspect of City Center that there seems to be no debate over: “The Park” — a grass field in the middle of the project for entertainment and city events.
Building heights would be capped at 35 feet and two stories, but businesses could apply for Council to allow a third story on a building.
Residential units are only allowed on the site as part of a planned development, which requires Commission and Council consideration and would be in future phases of development. Any residential units would be apartment-style and would have retail on the first floor with the residential units above on the second or third floor.
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