The Redmond City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday evening to gather input on several proposed amendments to the city's policies and regulations for neighborhood commercial zoning.
The public hearing will take place during the regular city council meeting, set for 7:30 p.m. at , 15670 NE 85th Street.
This meeting will cover just the proposed amendments, which include the formation of a resident panel to review proposed neighborhood commercial developments, restricting business developments to one in each of six proposed neighborhood commercial overlay zones, and prohibiting neighborhood commercial in certain low-density and industrial areas.
Kim Dietz, a senior planner with the city of Redmond, said the review panel would be a key component to the approval process for any new neighborhood commercial project. Developers would be required to meet with neighbors and present a conceptual idea of what type of business they will be building before approval is given, she said.
"So it's a little different than, say, just discussing a change to land use and zoning," Dietz said. "We would be taking it an extra step and looking at what would be created on the site."
Neighborhood commercial, a zoning designation that permits small stores, restaurants and other businesses in residential areas, has been a hot topic among city council members for several months.
Advocates say more neighborhood commercial would make it easier for Redmond residents to grab a cup of coffee or pick up a gallon of milk without having to get in their car and drive to a major commercial area. Critics, meanwhile, argue that allowing more retail businesses to open in residential areas would lower property values and could lead to increases in crime and traffic.
City council member Kimberly Allen, who grew up in the Midwest, said she's used to having shops and other businesses mixed in with residential areas and believes some level of neighborhood commercial would benefit Redmond residents.
“Neighborhood commercial was part of our landscape (where I grew up),” Allen said. “It was great—it promoted a walkable neighborhood, in a very old-fashioned sense.”
City Council President Richard Cole, meanwhile, remains opposed to the concept. Even though several residents have said they support the idea in general, Cole said he believes those attitudes are likely to change among homeowners who live next to any future neighborhood commercial businesses.
“If you happen to live next to a store … it’s pretty disruptive,” he said.
After Tuesday's public hearing, the city council plans to discuss the amendments again at its Aug. 9 study session. A possible vote on the proposals is scheduled for Sept. 6.