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Thursday, 15 November 2018 23:08

Auto Dealers Push Back on Proposed Lubbock, TX, Zoning Change

Written by Matt Dotray, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
The Lubbock City Council met Nov. 1. The Lubbock City Council met Nov. 1. Matt Dotray, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal


The Lubbock, TX, City Council ended up punting on a proposed zoning amendment aimed mostly at businesses having to do with vehicle sales and vehicle repair shops.


After nearly 15 people spoke out against the zoning amendment over the course of several hours, the council voted unanimously to table the item until January. Opposition came from car dealership owners, commercial real estate agents, owners of billboard companies and land owners.


Their argument was that the amendment would stifle business and it wasn’t properly discussed or vetted before the vote.


Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Griffith agreed with some of the arguments, saying after the meeting he couldn’t vote on the amendment in its current form. Councilman Steve Massengale, standing next to Griffith, agreed.


“We’ll need to change the recommendation,” Griffith said. “It would have been rushed if we took it up.”


The proposed zoning amendment was aimed at C-4 zoning districts, which are commercial districts designed for heavy retail and wholesale commercial use. There are other commercial districts, like local retail districts and neighborhood commercial districts, and C-4 zoning is scattered across the city.


C-4 zoning is most prevalent along Avenue Q between 34th Street and I-27, West 19th Street past the loop, and East 19th Street and Broadway between the interstate and the loop. There’s also some C-4 zoning along South Loop 289 and some thoroughfares.


The zoning amendment would have placed limitations on businesses that can go in C-4 districts---businesses such as automobile body shops, automobile sale shops, used car lots, bars, game rooms and dance halls. Currently these businesses are allowed “by right” in commercial districts. Billboards are also allowed in these districts.


According to city staff, which recommended this change, these businesses are typically viewed as having a negative impact on the surrounding areas. These businesses either produce noise, heavy traffic or another effect on nearby residents, wrote the city.


The amendment up for a vote continues to allow bars or lounges, dance halls and game rooms in C-4 districts, but as a specific use, meaning they will need approval from the city. The amendment would have not allowed businesses such as car lots, auto garages, trailer rentals and RV services to operate in C-4 zones---only in interstate highway commercial, interstate highway industrial and manufacturing district zones.


“By pushing these commercial businesses into (manufacturing zones), you’re almost pushing them out of business,” said one business owner. “They will not have the commercial traffic flow necessary to sustain their business. With that, the city will lose out, and the people of Lubbock will lose out.”


Existing businesses would be grandfathered in if this amendment were to pass. The land would continue to be grandfathered unless it were to sit vacant for at least a year.


Griffith, though, agreed the C-4 zoning code needs to be cleaned. He said there are too many acceptable uses for the zoning to be effective and protect nearby homeowners.


The council and city staff said they will meet with stakeholders before the amendment comes back to the council in January.


The item was tabled without much discussion from the council.


We thank Lubbock Avalanche-Journal for reprint permission.

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