The controversial downtown zoning updates were moved forward when the Mayor and Town Council voted last night, but not before another change in the proposal.
The change would limit short-term lodging in the core of town’s commercial district to no more than 100,000 square feet.
Public comment included some who complained that the council was wrong at the last hearing when they added back short-term rental uses to the zone.
Former County Commissioner Hank Phibbs told the council that the housing issue was not solvable. He said, “We cannot build our way out of it because we cannot sacrifice the very essence of this community’s neighborhoods, we can look for small solutions, but that is the limit of our capacity.” Phibbs added, “This is a problem that we have to live with and be realistic about.” Phibbs urged the council to keep the short-term out of the zone.
After several hours of comments and discussion, Mayor Flitner called for a vote saying, “We may fail, we may trip, we may not get to where we want to go, but it certainly won’t be for a lack of trying.” Flitner said she appreciated all the scores and scores of hours that the council and the public spent on the matter, “We are really trying to get solutions that we want.”
Hailey Morton Levinson added that she supported, “Ways that we can work together to get developers to provide some housing.” She added that she thought the 100000 square foot cap on short-term rental units would help calm the fears that some have about the issue.
Councilman Jim Stanford, who has voted against short-term lodging in the zone said he felt more comfortable with the cap noting that, “It just ensures the fact that we are not going to go off the deep end which is high-end condos that will make our problems worse.”
The council expressed their desire to move on to the rest of the residential zones which have languished since 2012 while District 2 was discussed.
Councilor Don Frank said “Let’s move on to the other districts where we have some tremendous opportunities to have housing at all cost points”
The vote unanimous.