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Planning commission OKs zoning change for Sherwood Street area

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Planning Commission on Tuesday night recommended a series of zoning changes, primarily to shift the Sherwood Street area from an industrial district to a general business district.

All of the commission’s decisions made Tuesday were not final. They are recommendations that will go to the Worthington City Council for Monday approval.

The commission first opted to change the comprehensive plan for a section of land located in between Sherwood Street and the railroad line. The commission voted to change the land use from industrial to a community commercial zone, which allows for retail businesses such as banks, restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores.

In accordance with the overarching change to the area, the commission voted to rezone industrial parcels within the section from manufacturing to general business.

Commission members agreed the area is better suited for commercial businesses, as opposed to heavy industrial businesses that could be harmful to nearby residential areas, future retail growth and Lake Okabena. They also agreed the area isn’t well suited for heavy industrial uses.

“We’re not going to see a plant go up there nowadays … they would want more room to grow,” said commission chairman Bob Bristow.

The commission also recommended that a city-owned plot of land located south of Merck and east of Shine Bros Corp. be re-zoned to general business from transitional. A new Ethiopian Orthodox Church is expected to be built on the property, and the zoning change allows for the construction of the building with a conditional use permit.

Congregation President Abebe Abetew said the location is a good one, as it’s quiet and has both little traffic and substantial acres of available land.

Later, the commission discussed several potential new standards that could be enforced on businesses, but didn’t take official action.

One proposed new standard would require landscaping and trees on commercial parking lots, in order to improve their appearance. Another would have required asphalt plans to be located 350 feet or further from a residential or commercial district, but commission members weren’t convinced that distance was far enough.

Over the next few months, city staff will create a robust set of new universal design standards for businesses, aiming to improve the look of Oxford Street and Worthington as a whole.