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The city now has a research- and business-park zoning ordinance. Some residents who helped develop it think it's great - as long as the ordinance isn't used to develop a research park in their back yards.

The City Council approved the ordinance Tuesday after eliminating a prohibition against real estate and insurance offices being located in the zone. The 13-page ordinance spells out the purpose of the zone, identifies permitted and prohibited uses and describes requirements for landscaping, parking, signs, fences, etc.The city drafted the ordinance after residents of the Riverbottoms area opposed development of a research park in their neighborhood. One complaint of opponents was that no city ordinance outlinedexactly what types of businesses would and would not be allowed.

Residents of the area and local developers helped the city draft the new ordinance.

Steve Jaussi, a Riverbottoms resident, said there were a few additional provisions he wanted in the ordinance, such as a stipulation that research parks had to be located within two miles of a freeway for traffic control and access purposes. But overall, residents "put a lot of positive stuff" into the ordinance.

Dave Gardner, who represents the development company that proposed the Riverbottoms research park, thinks it is a good ordinance. In fact, the company, Riverfront Partnerships, filed an application last Tuesday to change the master plan zoning on its Riverbottoms property to allow development of a 120-acre park.

"The plan is the same as it was before because we were already meeting the requirements," Gardner said. However, if the Planning Commission approves the master plan change, Riverfront Partnerships will have to provide much more detail for public hearings.

"It is round two with the neighbors," Gardner said.

Jaussi agrees.

"I think the neighbors are still going to fight it (a research park) because they don't want one in this area," Jaussi said. "I haven't heard too many say `Well, let's go ahead with it now.' "


Rules for new zone

The ordinance says the new research and business park zone may be located adjacent to quality residential development and must be properly screened and beautified to create the highest degree of compatibility. Also, the zone "should always be located adjacent to collector or arterial streets."

And, the ordinance states the zone is to be characterized by "attractively designed buildings and off-street parking lots situated among spacious lawns, shrubs and trees which give a park-like appearance."

Other provisions of the ordinance:

-Permitted uses include research services; professional, business and administrative offices; communication companies; data processing services; and finance, insurance and real estate services.

Also, support and maintenance shops for such businesses; restaurants and lodging facilities catering to employees working at the businesses; printing, publishing and allied industries; day-care centers and recreational facilities.

-The minimum size of any park shall be 20 acres, with a minimum lot size of two acres.

-Buildings and parking areas may not occupy more than 60 percent of the total area of the lot. Buildings may have a maximum of 13,000 square feet of floor space and be no more than two stories high.

-Buildings are to be set back 40 feet from streets and 20 feet from property lines.

-Large, mature trees are to be planted along the perimeter of main roads.