Panel talks changes to zoning code and licensing

YOUNGSTOWN — What started out as an effort to stop additional dollar stores from coming into Youngstown has expanded into talk of licensing a dozen different business types and changing the zoning code to control the appearance of business along corridors.

City council’s zoning committee had a two-hour discussion Thursday with administration and business officials about the topics. The committee has met three times since the city administration asked March 25 for a one-year moratorium on opening dollar stores, used car lots, gas stations and auto mechanic businesses in the city.

A moratorium on dollar stores, used car lots and auto mechanics could be ready for council to consider in the next month or so.

City officials have expressed concerns about all of those businesses, particularly dollar stores. There are 23 of them — Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar — in the city.

City officials say dollar stores drive away other businesses, there’s an oversaturation in Youngstown, they’re cluttered and the properties are not maintained, among other issues.

The committee has more than just a moratorium in mind.

Discussed Thursday was an effort to license a dozen types of businesses.

That includes small box stores, gambling facilities, gas stations, mechanic shops, night clubs, second-hand stores, used car lots, auto scraping shops, tire recycling, short-term stay businesses, adult entertainment venues and group homes.

If approved, those businesses would need to get licensed by the city, pay a fee and be required to follow city guidelines that would be developed.

The committee also wants to update the city’s zoning code, which was last updated in 2013, to have better control over corridors.

The committee again discussed creating a design review district along Market Street from Midlothian Boulevard to Woodland Avenue. A portion of Market Street from Princeton to Boston avenues is currently in a design review district.

“The goal is to expand the boundaries,” Councilwoman Samantha Turner, D-3rd Ward and zoning committee chairwoman, said.

Turner said there could be different standards for corridors in the city depending on needs, but basic requirements would be created.

A design review district would require any business looking to locate or make exterior changes to get permission from the city’s design review committee.

The committee already has that control over the small section of Market Street known as Uptown, as well as the city’s downtown, Crandall Park area and any business that seeks grant money from Youngstown’s facade program.


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