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An overhead map of the central commerce overlay district.

The Brooklyn Center City Council approved the first reading of an amendment to the list of allowable uses in its central commerce overlay district at its Aug. 26 meeting.

The district, which is bounded by Interstates 94 and 694 to the north, Highway 100 to the south and east, and Brooklyn Boulevard and Shingle Creek on the west.

Generally, an overlay district is an overlapping zoning can apply an extra level or regulation or development criteria in a zoning district beyond what the underlying zoning district specifies.

The central commerce overlay district was initially created in 2011 and was later amended in 2013. The overlay was created towards the end of the Great Recession, and is an effort to protect the city from lowest-common-denominator developments that became more common as the economy improved, according to Community Development Director Meg Beekman.

Within the site is the now-vacant Sears building, along with its auto repair building. The 15-acre site is being considered for its future use by the city and its consulting team, which is also considering larger updates to the city’s zoning ordinance.

In July 2018, the council adopted an interim ordinance which authorized a study and placed a development moratorium on the Sears site. The moratorium is set to expire Aug. 2019, and the planning work for the site has not been completed. The intention of the amendment to the central commerce overlay district is to keep what the city considers incompatible uses from coming to the Sears site as the moratorium expires, Beekman said.

The amendment to the overlay district would restrict uses related to automotive uses, including auto repair, gas stations, and truck or trailer rental establishments. Indoor storage establishments would be restricted, and the amendment adds greater restrictions on outdoor storage or display of materials, vehicles, equipment, retail sale of tires, batters, auto accessories, and marine craft accessories.

While city staff members proposed allowing for multiple-family residential dwellings if consistent with the underlying or future land-use designation, Mayor Mike Elliot was opposed to the housing aspect of the amendment, and made a motion to remove it. The motion was unanimously approved.

As the city’s updated code amendments move forward, this overlay district could potentially be removed, or could be replaced by new zoning.

The underlying zoning for much of the overlay district is transit-oriented development.

The council voted unanimously to approve to the first reading of the amendment.

A public hearing for the second reading of the amendment is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 12.

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