Lincoln City looking into more coffee shops and mom and pop grocery stores (and a few others) within residential areas
Lincoln City City Councilors Monday night were given a first glimpse at what it would look like if Lincoln City allowed some minor commercial operations to set up shop within existing or newly constructed neighborhoods. Councilors were, at first, a bit squeamish about it but Senior Planner Debra Martzhan and Community Development Director Richard Townsend pressed on. They told the council that traditional American neighborhoods used to have such commercial establishments that ranged from grocery stores to meat markets, hardware stores to fix it shops. Services that everyone could walk to. Services where neighbors could greet each other, talk, share the day’s events and be real neighbors.
Martzhan and Townsend reminded the council that the baby boomers are getting up in years and even they would tell you that it’s easier to go down the street and pick up a gallon of milk than having to drive clear across town. Offering neighborhood commercial opportunities would reduce traffic on arterials and connector streets. Less wear and tear on local roads and folks not having to spend so much on gas. Martzhan and Townsend said that neighborhood commercial would be most welcomed in new subdivisions and new planned unit developments but that’s not to say that certain older neighborhoods in Lincoln City wouldn’t be amendable to it too. It would depend on what services, products and architecture that goes with it. Martzhan said most neighborhood commercial uses could most likely take over an existing house, with the store down below and the owners’ living upstairs or in the back. Just like in the old days. And again, there’s the social element of providing a central gathering or “meet up” place for people living in the neighborhood which is a totally separate issue from leaving the house to buy something.
Councilors asked, “What if a store became so successful it runs out of parking or becomes a noisy neighbor?” Townsend replied, “At that point the city could step in and find the owner a more suitable location in a traditional commercial part of town where he or she could continue to grow and be successful.”
The council said it would be willing to consider allowing minor, small scaled commercial operations within existing and new residential areas. But they admitted that if it happens, it will have to be very much on a specific case by case basis. Martzhan and Townsend said they’ll come back at a future city council meeting with a little clearer plan.