Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission recommends size cap for new businesses; public hearing set for Feb. 28
Stores would be limited to 130,000 square feet
The Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission recommended Wednesday that stores larger than 130,000 square feet with 410 or more parking spaces should not be allowed to locate within city limits.
The commission also agreed to allow stores to apply for a variance under certain circumstances.
A public hearing on the size cap recommendation and a dark-store provision drafted by a subcommittee last year will be held during the Planning and Zoning Commission’s Feb. 28 meeting. Its recommendation will then be sent to the City Council.
The Large Retail Establishment Ordinance, passed in February, requires so-called big-box stores to go through a conditional use permit process before locating in Moscow.
The City Council asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to recommend amendments to the ordinance, including size-cap and dark-store provisions. “Dark” stores are considered those that have gone out of business and remain empty.
“To me (a size cap) supports the idea that very large developments have potential negative impacts,” commission member Joel Hamilton said.
Commission member Nels Reese said he favored putting the size cap on the table to bring it up for discussion during a public meeting.
“The cap is an important discussion point around America today in small and large places,” he said. “By not having a cap comment we won’t get the same comments from the public that we probably should hear.”
Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Wayne Krauss said the conditional use permit process should be enough to control large-scale retail development and a size cap is too restrictive.
“There’s no question (big-box stores) have to be controlled,” he said. “But a conditional use permit can be a means of that control.”
He said a cap could limit Latah County’s ability to compete with Whitman County for new businesses.
The Planning and Zoning Commission followed the size-cap subcommittee’s recommendations that a large retail establishment would have to expand by at least 30 percent before it would be required to apply for a conditional use permit. Big-box stores between 40,000 and 65,000 square feet would be subject to the design manual — which includes standards for the exterior and interior of buildings — at the discretion of the board of adjustment, and any business requiring 140 or fewer parking spaces would not be subject to the parking requirements of the design manual.
Stores larger than 65,000 square feet or with more than 140 parking spots would be subject to the entire design manual.
The Planning and Zoning Commission also followed the dark-store committee’s recommendation to require businesses larger than 64,000 square feet to submit a reuse plan for the facility within 90 days of abandonment. The owner must provide regular updates to the city, and after three years, the City Council can assess fines if it doesn’t think the entity is acting in the best interest of the city.You think they just picked 130,000 sq. ft. limit out of the air? Please. I can't WAIT until Home Depot announces plans for Moscow. I hereby publicly vow that I will devote every one of my future Town Crier columns to reminding the Wal-Mart opponents in Moscow of EVERY comment they have ever made about being choosy and not a "you-all come" area, environmentally responsible business, conserving resources, "heat islands," focusing on high-tech industries, traffic on the Pullman/Moscow Highway, the Chipman Trail, the aquifers, losing that "small town feeling," sustainability, supporting local businesses, money leavingthe community, , etc., etc., etc. by Wal-Mart opponents in Moscow. It will be called the Carnival of Hypocrisy.