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Aiken City Council finalizes changes to limited business, downtown business zones

November 13, 2018

The limited business and downtown business zoning districts will be a little different from here on out.

The Aiken City Council unanimously approved amendments to the zonings on Monday night. The Planning Commission, an advisory body, unanimously recommended doing so earlier this year.

Limited business zoning — designed for a blend of retail, pedestrian and residential uses — now prohibits liquor store and convenience store uses, according to City Council documents.

Limited business zoning was created more than a decade ago, according to Planning Commission documents, but remains rarely used.

Downtown business zoning — designed for core commercial and civic uses — now, among other things, requires a 200-foot single-family residence buffer for liquor stores and night clubs and also defines a “Central Business District,” according to the same information.

The Central Business District is now recognized as the stretch between the Railroad Cut, Barnwell Avenue, Union Street and Greenville Street S.W. Structures in the downtown business area are subject to Design Review Board approval because of its overlap with the Old Aiken overlay district.

Existing businesses and establishments in the altered zones can be grandfathered if things are outstanding, according to Ryan Bland, the city’s planning director.

The changes made to the zoning ordinance do not directly rezone areas — that’s a completely different process.

“This isn’t written just for one street,” City Council member Ed Woltz said Monday night.

It should be noted, though, the changes arrive as the city considers rezoning properties in the Waterloo Street neighborhood, a move that has faced its own round of public outcry.

The rezoning of Waterloo Street-area properties is expected to come to City Council at the end of November. The Planning Commission will look into it Tuesday night.

Concerns, during multiple public hearings and via discussions with planning staff, have been raised about the intensity of commercial use in limited business areas, a supposed-to-be transitional zone. Similar concerns — how commercial affects residential and vice-versa — were raised for the downtown business area, according to Planning Commission documents.

City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh acknowledged the unease Monday night.

City Council approved the first reading of the amendment ordinance on Oct. 22.

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