Borough Adds Mixed-Use Zoning to Downtown Core!
By: Brad Flynn, Borough Manager
After eighteen months of careful consideration, the Borough of Bath has added Mixed-Use zoning to its downtown center. The Mixed-Use Zoning Ordinance amendment has been established under the Borough’s current Parking Overlay District, see map below:
Properties located within the Parking Overlay District will be authorized up to two (2) principles uses.
Previously, the Borough Zoning Ordinance prohibited more than one (1) principle use in any zoning district. Anyone who has taken notice of downtown Bath may have never realized that many of the pre-existing non-conforming uses (such as a residential apartment on the second floor and a commercial business on the first floor) was illegal since enacting the Zoning Ordinance in the 1970’s. If the property existed before the Zoning law was implemented, it was granted a pass as a pre-existing non-conforming use. The original Zoning Ordinance did not legislate mixed-use options until recently. This presented problems to property owners and those seeking to purchase property in Bath’s downtown core. Restricting properties to one (1) principle use creates adverse boundaries for owners resulting in time delays, legal fees, and other expenses of taking matters through the Zoning Hearing Board for determination.
In considering mixed-use for Bath, the Bath Planning Commission decided that the Parking Overlay District could serve as a case study area for providing a more than one principle use provision to zoning. If the measure is successful, the Borough may implement mixed-use in other zoning districts of the Borough.
For now, the 71 properties located in the Parking Overlay District will be authorized up to two (2) principle uses. In basic terms, a property will now be granted the option of operating a commercial use on the first floor and a residential use on the second floor.
Mixed Use defined: A use of an existing building in the Parking Overlay District for either (a) a single non-residential permitted use (listed below) on the first floor and a single non-residential permitted use (listed below) on the second floor or (b) a single non-residential permitted use (listed below) on the first floor and a dwelling unit on the second floor.
The new non-residential uses that may be authorized under mixed-use are:
Baked Good Store & Confectionery Store (retail only);
Gift, Book & Variety Store;
Haberdashery, Apparel store, jewelry store, shoe repair store or tailor;
Barber and Beauty Shop
Small appliance sales and repair;
Eating & Drinking Establishment;
Medical & Dental Clinic;
Bed & Breakfast
It should be noted, any changes to a property use under these new guidelines will require an application to the Zoning Officer. Use change and appropriate Uniform Construction Code (UCC) permitting will be required before a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) can be issued by the Borough’s Building Code Official (BCO). The amendment to zoning allowing mixed-use speeds up the process to perform a UCC review.
Borough Council has also implemented a restriction on mixed-use permits during the first year of implementation. Beginning January 1, 2018, the borough will issue up to ten (10) mixed-use permits in the Parking Overlay District until December 31, 2018. After that, Council may proceed with the next phase of issuing permits within the Parking Overlay District.
Under these new provisions, the mixed-use zoning amendment will allow for greater use of one’s property. This should increase property desirability, increasing land values, promote downtown business growth, and stimulate economic activity within the Borough of Bath.
For further information about the new mixed-use amendment, please contact our office during normal business hours.
(Last revised 12/27/2017)