Warren City Council has set a public hearing date and sent for final review to the Planning Commission changes to the zoning ordinance that would permit residential use of residential-type structures in the city's commercial district.
The public hearing date was set for March 17, allowing the Planning Commission the opportunity to review the change one more time in February.
The Planning Commission has recommended requiring individuals to pursue a special exception when seeking to use these structures as residences, such as the Tybout House on Market Street.
City Council, reviewing the proposal for the first time during a meeting Monday night, took a more broad approach.
Councilman Sam Harvey suggested that residential use of those structures simply be a permitted use in commercial zoning districts. "Why are we going to require them to pay $500 and get a special exception?" Harvey asked.
"I believe that buildings that were constructed as homes should be a permitted use in a C1 district," he added.
Councilman Gregory Fraser, who served on the Planning Commission until being sworn in as a councilman just weeks ago, said that the "policy that underlies the special exception" was an "attempt to try to have an integral commercial use area. This was policy adopted by the city back in the 1980s. (The) policy at the time (was) they wanted to exclude residential living on the first floor in the C1 district."
"Permitted use is a much better use to go down because it does not place an undue burden on the family," said Councilman John Lewis.
"This has limited application actually," Councilman Dr. Howard Ferguson said, indicating support for the permitted use idea.
Council's feedback will be given to the commission for consideration duringits final review. Council can vote on the changes after the public hearing is held.
The change would affect approximately 15 properties in the city.