Business Loop 70 CID director speaks about proposal changes

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COLUMBIA - The Business Loop 70 Community Improvement District board members are organizing their comments for Columbia City Council before December 11. 

Carrie Gartner, CID Executive Director, said Monday morning most of the comments the CID have made about the zoning proposal so far are positive. 

"We have a lot of positive comments," Gartner said. "We like the idea of transit zones. We like the idea of having higher density buildings along bus routes or major roads." 

Gartner said they like a lot of things they are talking about. The comments also include artisan industries, like bakeries, breweries, and small bore industries.

"On the other side, we do have this question of the size of lots, very small lots," Gartner said. "How do we meet the setback requirements? How do we meet the parking requirements on such small properties?" 

A main concern from the CID's proposal to Columbia City Council is in regards to business owners not being able to expand their businesses on Business Loop 70 if they don't meet parking requirements. 

"There's a lot of interesting changes being made to the zoning code," Gartner said. "[However], we do have some concerns. There are some very very small lots here and if something should happen or if somebody should decide to rebuild, we simply can't fit all the requirements on this small piece of land. Parking is the great example. There are some places that just can't meet the requisite number of parking spaces." 

Gartner gave an example with Garry Ennis, CID board member and owner of Ennis Appliance on Business Loop 70. 

"Garry has maybe between four or five parking spaces right now," Gartner said. "Current code says he has to have 37. The new code says 25. They've actually reduced the parking requirements, which is great. [But], he still can't fit that." 

Gartner said the city has worked with the CID cooperatively for months. The board has offered a lot of comments to the city, which has taken them into account. 

"We feel they've been super cooperative," Gartner said. "We're very pleased with that." 

Gartner said when it comes down to it, the question remains how does the board work with the small lots to really find out a way to maintain the overall goal of the proposal.

"[It's] to make sure we don't get stuck with properties that just become unusable," the executive director said. 

The CID is still waiting for the okay to arrange a public vote to levy a sales tax, hoping to bring in an estimated $220,000 a year. The estimate is based on sales given by the city and could change depending if the area becomes more popular. 

"More places to shop, more places to eat," Gartner said. 

When asked about the CID spoof video from the November 19 episode of, "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah," regarding the sales tax, Gartner said the board hasn't discussed it yet and she hasn't seen it.