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City considers ending restrictions on 10th Street businesses

City council met for a special session with Worthington's Chamber of Commerce to discuss the effects of removing the overlay district.

City of Worthington
Worthington City Hall (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)
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WORTHINGTON — The city’s current retail overlay district and the effects of removing it were the topics of discussion during a joint special session involving the Worthington City Council and Chamber of Commerce Retail Committee.

The retail overlay district restricts the ground level of buildings on 10th Street to retail and restaurants, and an amendment to the city code that would entirely remove the retail overlay district has been in the works since early April.

First proposed and approved by the Worthington Planning Commission, the amendment had received approval of two previous readings before the city council prior to being tabled due to concerns brought forth by several Worthington business owners.

“I feel like it’s a basic protection,” said Amanda Walljasper-Tate, owner of The Daily Apple. “I feel like this is such an important concept and other cities may not have like a thing in a place like this (overlay district)...but we've attracted some really cool new businesses in recent days. Why don't we keep that as the focus, that we do want retail downtown?”

However, City Planner Matt Selof stated that the city had begun looking into the process of removing the retail overlay district when no concerns were brought forward over granting a conditional use permit to the Kivu Law Office, despite being the type of business the overlay district was designed to keep out of 10th Street.

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“You’re giving more freedom to businesses that want to move or open on 10th street,” Selof explained of the city’s reasoning for eliminating the overlay district. “It removes some red tape, if you will, for businesses wanting to open and it eases concerns about the conditional use permit process for aspiring new businesses.”

Councilman Chad Cummings pointed out that requiring businesses to go through the sometimes two-month process of seeking a conditional use permit could mean they lose out on available space, and eliminating the restriction would prevent the city from looking like there is a “pick and choose” process to who is allowed to open a business downtown.

Removing the retail overlay district would allow for businesses involving daily, office, cleaning, or medical services as well as entertainment or printing trades to set up shop along 10th Street without obtaining a conditional use permit. Motels, clubs, terminals and parking would also be allowed along 10th Street, should the current amendment go forward.

The city council will vote on the amendment during its June 13 meeting.

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