COLUMBIA CITY — Columbia City’s Common Council unanimously approved the first reading of two rezoning requests that were presented by Planning Director Nathan Bilger in a council meeting earlier this month.

One request calls for a change from R-3 Residential to General Business for a self-storage unit, and the other requests a change from R-2 Residential to R-3 Residential for more flexibility in a potential new housing addition.

The storage units would be located near the manufactured home park on the north side of U.S. 30 near Denzil Drive. The location is currently zoned as R-3 Residential and would need to be zoned General Business for the storage units.

The request received a favorable recommendation from the Redevelopment Commission under one condition — the lighting and aesthetics are reviewed explicitly.

“There are view lines from U.S. 30, the public trail and there are homes backing up to it off Denzil Drive,” Bilger said.

Mayor Ryan Daniel pointed out that the city has been concerned with rezoning to General Business, because making the change in zoning for one particular business opens the door for that property to be used by a different business type in the future.

“I think because it is located next to U.S. 30, there are probably not going to be single-family homes or large apartment complexes there,” Daniel said.

It is unclear how many storage units would be constructed.

The second rezoning request is for property that is an extension of Valley River Drive in southeast Columbia City. The area is currently zoned R-2, but the developer is requesting a change to R-3 to allow for some two-family units in a new subdivision. In addition, it allows for homes to be closer together with 50-foot-wide lots as opposed to 60 feet.

The plan is to have more single-family homes, with a written commitment not to have multi-family homes — which is anything more than two families per home.

“The basic reason for requesting is to get some benefit of slightly smaller lot sizes to allow for a few more lots in the proposed subdivision,” Bilger said.

However, Bilger indicated that most of the lots will exceed the 50-foot minimum.

“I didn’t run the averages, but for the most part, just driving through, it will look very similar,” Bilger said.

Daniel said he was concerned with houses being built too close together.

“I have vowed to myself and others that we wouldn’t make the same mistake we made on Burke Street, where you can reach out and touch your neighbor’s window,” Daniel said.

Councilman Dan Weigold, who is also the GIS coordinator for the county, said he didn’t think any of the proposed lots were less than 55 feet wide. The area would likely be developed in the next 10 years.

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