Jerome works to relax parking requirement for some businesses
The Town of Jerome is working on a parking solution to relax its longtime, on-site parking requirement for some businesses in town.
An amendment to its decades-old zoning ordinance would allow new businesses, such as the owners of the Cuban Queen property, to construct buildings without on-site parking — or having to lease parking spots in other parts of town.
The issue will be presented at the Jerome Town Council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 12, by Jerome Zoning Administrator John Knight. The 7 p.m. meeting is at the Jerome Town Council Chambers, 600 Clark St.
The Council, the town’s attorney and Knight have been discussing the possible details of a code and map amendment to the town’s zoning ordinance at two previous council meetings, he said.
“On the one hand we probably wouldn’t be doing this it were not for this particular applicant,” Knight said referring to the Cuban Queen. But Knight said it’s something “should have been done a long time ago. It’s been a long-time coming trying to find other parking solutions.”
The Overlay District solution
The particulars still need to be discussed by the town and approved, but Knight listed the following highlights:
A Parking Overlay Zone map will be placed over the C1 (commercial) zone in Jerome. The businesses in that zone will be able to lease annually into the 18 designated parking spaces owned by the town.
Currently, the overlay map includes three privately owned parcel: the Cuban Queen, House of Joy and a vacant lot; and four Town of Jerome parcels, which include parking lots and the Slide Jail area slope.
New businesses could still be added to the map before it is approved. Businesses could be added later to the Overlay District with a rezone.
The ordinance is for businesses only and will not affect the construction of new homes which will still require on-site parking or driveways in residential zoned areas.
If the Jerome Council approves the motion, the ordinance proposal will go to Planning & Zoning where they will discuss and vote on the issue after a public hearing/workshop.
After approval by the Planning and Zoning, the ordinance would have to go back to council for two more readings.
In the meantime, the Cuban Queen is extending the time it has to appeal its case in the courts against the town in a memorandum they were to sign Thursday night.
The Cuban Queen owners would have the option of buying into the new Overlay Parking solution, if they choose to go that path, rather than the courts or appealing their case through the Board of Adjustment.
Under the current zoning ordinance, adopted in 1977, businesses in Jerome need to provide on-site parking (off the street) or secure a parking spot elsewhere in the commercial zone with a deed for that specific use, said Knight and Candace Gallagher, the town manager, who added that the new proposal would be an amendment to the original zoning ordinance.
These 18 town-owned parking spots are near the volleyball courts, Knight said, adding that they are not part of the paid-kiosk parking system. But they could be at some point.
New business owners will still have the option of having parking on-site or leasing parking spots in town. But Knight said now they would be able to pay into an annual fee to the town.
That fee will be used by the town to develop more parking that is accessible to everybody, Knight said. He pointed to Flagstaff as a town that does this.
Town trying to solve parking issue
Knight said the town’s flexibility on parking will help the town encourage new businesses coming to town and the convergence of uses by existing businesses that require more intensive parking.
The Jerome Council has for years wanted to raise revenue to help fix the town’s crumbling infrastructure system
“I wish the town had wrestled with this 30 years ago,” Knight said.” “But we have to do it now because it seems like so many times this comes up every proposed-use or change in-use, or expansion of-use.”
The parking issue has started to slow the process of what new businesses can come into town or how current businesses can change or expand, he said.
The council has discussed many options to come up with the current parking solution, Knight said, as an example, Cottonwood does not require on-site parking for businesses.
No individual variances
The town does not want to support granting individual variances to parking issues, Knight pointed out. The town should look for more parking lots to open up, he also said
The property owners of the Cuban Queen, Windy Jones and Josh Lindner, originally hoped to have five at-large parking spots permitted through the town. The property is located at 24 Queen St.
The town’s position is that the variance secured by the previous owners for five parking spaces in 2009 could not be transferred to Jones and Lindner.
Such a permit is required in order to convert the one-time brothel into a four-bedroom rooming house, according to a letter town officials sent to the owners.
But now the town is working with the owners to come up with a path that will work for them and for other businesses, Knight said.
And the new ordinance may be that path if they choose.
Residents can see map Tuesday
Tuesday’s Council meeting will be the first step in initiating the zoning code amendment and map amendment to create the parking overlay district, he said.
The ordinance is being taken up by the council first because it’s such a “high-level issue, Knight said, and then sent to P&Z.
Council discussed many options, he said, everything from getting rid of the parking requirement downtown altogether to creating a user “in lieu” fee with an Overlay District, which what they chose.
People will have plenty of time to comment, he added.
“I think the town is very motivated to address this and solve this,” Knight pointed out. “We have a town that parking wasn’t planned for when then they built these homes in Jerome. We got to look to the past, but we got to look to the future.”