Business district changes approved in Hartford


July 29, 2015

HARTFORD — In a move to promote business development and a downtown revitalization, the Common Council on Tuesday night approved changes in the city’s B-3 general business district ordinance.

City Developer Justin Drew told the council changes were needed because many portions of the current rules were drafted in the 1980s.

“Much of the current ordinance reflects uses and restrictions for a very different time and development pattern for small downtowns,” Drew said. “As staff considers ways to encourage continued downtown development, it has become apparent that many of the B-3 restrictions serve as an impediment to development and do not serve any discernible community benefit.”

Drew said the changes are intended to provide for orderly continuation and revitalization of the older established “central business district” where uses are not exclusively of one type, but mixed and include retail, entertainment, office, institutional and residential uses.

The council waived the rules so two more readings of the ordinance were not needed before final approval.

The changes in the ordinance include:

■ Allowing residential use by three-bedroom units, not two as the ordinance currently reads.

■ Removing the restriction that a building can cover no more than 30 percent of the lot area. The changes will allow lot coverage of as much as 100 percent.

■ Removing the restriction that a development site abut a public street for at least 50 feet.

■ Raising the building height restriction from 45 feet to 55 feet.

■ Changing language about parking restrictions and to leave questions on the issue up to the discretion of the Plan Commission.

Drew said the changes from the two-bedroom limit to three-bedroom was sought because the two-bedroom limit is too restrictive.

“There’s a market in downtown for larger residential units and there does not appear to be any compelling reason to keep this restriction,” Drew said. “The staff proposed allowing three-bedroom units where the minimum floor area is 800 square-feet.”

Council President Tim Michalak said the changes were long overdue.

“These changes are one way to show that we are willing to accommodate and make changes for businesses,” Michalak said.

Alderman Dennis Hegy asked if the height restriction in the city’s industrial park is still 45 feet.

“Yes, it is,” Drew said.

“That’s something we might want to look at changing as well,” Hegy said.