[Vision2020] Co-op: Yes, But Not Downtown

Bill London london at moscow.com
Mon May 23 16:50:09 PDT 2005

    The Moscow Food Co-op is not in violation of the existing zoning ordinace.
    The primary function of the Central Business District zoning ordinances is the preservation of the area as a place for retail businesses.  All retail business is welcomed there except for dealers in bulky products like trailers or farm equipment.  The Co-op clearly qualifies.
    The only mention of grocery stores is in a list on included examples in the motor business section.  Grocery stores is not a defined term in the code, and so is not specifically prohibited anywhere.
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Dale Courtney 
  To: vision2020 at moscow.com 
  Sent: Saturday, May 21, 2005 8:07 AM
  Subject: [Vision2020] Co-op: Yes, But Not Downtown

    Bill London has speculated on the motives of the individuals who recently filed a complaint against the Moscow Food Co-op for violating Moscow's zoning code. He said nothing about the merits of the request. No one attempted to judge the motives of the Co-op's agents who bypass city code as they attempt to occupy the old Garts building in downtown Moscow, because while the reason they are violating the ordinance is irrelevant, that they are indeed violating the ordinance is **not**. 

    The Comprehensive Plan says that the success of the Central Business District can be attributed to "compactness." Indeed, the compactness and "variety of businesses" in downtown, as opposed to one-stop shopping under one-roof, encourage people to make the trip, rather than to a large supermarket or shopping mall in the Motor Business District. 

    According to the Comprehensive Plan, reduction in auto movement is absolutely necessary for the continued viability of the Central Business District (CBD). There is already considerable auto movement, and "this traffic represents a danger to shoppers crossing Main Street within the downtown area." As the focus for the CBD is pedestrian-orientation, any business that locates downtown should not significantly attract additional motor traffic. 

    Moscow's Zoning Code defines different types of retail establishments: those "dispensing food or commodities including on-premise sales, sales requiring delivery of goods, and drive-up facilities such as shopping centers and malls, **grocery stores**, gasoline service stations" MCC 4.3.7.B(1). Grocery stores have been defined differently from other retail establishments due to their nature as a drive-up facility--where a vehicle is required for most people in order to transport back to home their weekly shopping. 

    Perhaps Moscow's city planners understood the dynamics of retail growth--that what once was a corner Green Grocer yesterday, will be the new full-service supermarket tomorrow, complete with deli, bakery, and all the other components for convenient one-stop shopping. That is why they expressly forbid the establishment of grocery stores in the CBD. MCC 3.3.5.B. Grocery stores are distinctly defined in the Code, and those uses which are not expressly permitted, are therefore prohibited. 

    To preserve the downtown core, it makes sense to prohibit grocery stores and other drive-up facilities that are much better suited for the Motor Business District. The increased vehicular traffic poses an inherent risk to pedestrians. Moscow's downtown core is best served by a wide array and collection of small shops and business that lend themselves to a "boutique" atmosphere. When considered together these enhance the pedestrian foot traffic throughout the CBD. One-stop shopping and supermarkets would not only take away from this atmosphere by discouraging pedestrian traffic within the downtown core, but by also directly competing with a host of existing downtown businesses. It's simple economic logic. 

    One permitted use that might be incompatible with downtown zoning objectives should not suggest expanding those incompatible uses. Rather, it suggests the City should consider restricting the expansion of all other potentially incompatible uses. Regardless of other future changes, we are confident that if the City Council wants Moscow's primary pedestrian, open-air mall opened to uses currently inconsistent with the intended use of the Downtown area, such as a grocery store, then they will follow due process by amending the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Code, both of which would require extensive public hearings, impact-analysis reports, traffic analysis--foot, and especially auto and parking, and a discussion of the cultural effects on the community. Nevertheless, until the Co-op complies with the current zoning ordinance, the law clearly states that their activities are illegal and must be discontinued. 

    I am surprised by the Co-op's apparent unwillingness to **voluntarily** relocate to the Motor Business District in Moscow where they can operate legally. The Co-op is valued by a number of Moscow citizens, and in answer to the question of whether I want the Co-op in Moscow, a resounding: Yes, But Not Downtown!

  Dedicated to Mike Curley, who recently wrote an op-ed entitled NSA: Yes, But Not Downtown.

  Written by Don#2. http://right-mind.us/archive/2005/05/20/4055.aspx


   List services made available by First Step Internet, 
   serving the communities of the Palouse since 1994.   
            mailto:Vision2020 at moscow.com
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://mailman.fsr.com/pipermail/vision2020/attachments/20050523/83e6a058/attachment.htm

More information about the Vision2020 mailing list