Urbana council to consider rezoning residential properties

URBANA — The city council this week will consider a request by developer Howard Wakeland to rezone a chunk of North Lincoln Avenue residential properties to make them more accommodating to neighborhood business.

The Urbana City Council will meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.

Wakeland already owns nine of the 11 properties he is asking city officials to rezone in the 900 blocks of west Church and Hill streets and the 700 block of North Lincoln Avenue.

The distinction would give the property owner more flexibility in what may be built on those properties, from single-family or multi-family residence buildings to convenience or other small retail stores.

During a Nov. 8 plan commission meeting, Planning Manager Robert Myers told commissioners that it could be argued that the block is not yet "ripe" for development — two owner-occupied homes remain.

On the other hand, Wakeland's request is in tune with Urbana's comprehensive plan, a document that guides future development in the city. The plan calls for that block to be the future site of "community business."

The plan commission on Dec. 20 recommended in a 5-0 vote that the city council approve Wakeland's request.

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ksquish wrote on January 21, 2013 at 10:01 am

Mixed-use zoning would only be advantageous, especially in low-to-moderate-income areas: it's more pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly, it reduces driving distance for those who do drive, it naturally lends itself to a variety of housing types and levels of affordability, which in turn makes it less likely that the area will become a slum. It would be a wholesome alternative to those acres of cookie cutter subdivisions out in west champaign that look so lifeless you can't tell if anyone actually lives there. 

And Mr. Wakeland, if you do build a park, would you consider Jane Jacobs' advice that the best parks are in busy central areas through which people must walk to get from one place to another - not tucked away in the middle of neighborhoods where no one sees them, where they offer an ideal gathering place for criminal activity? 

I'm glad to read that the planning comission recommends this request be approved.

awilson wrote on January 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Can you say "Home Run Food Mart"?  That would make a great addition to any neighborhood.  Would surely make it not look like a lifeless cookie cutter neighborhood.

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on January 21, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Beware of all local political entities bearing gifts; especially with respect to north lincoln avenue and all points further north.