DANVILLE - A recent survey of what zoning uses other Illinois cities allow in their downtowns didn't reveal any major differences compared to Danville's downtown.
Danville city zoning officials presented the planning and zoning commission Thursday night with the results of a survey of downtown zoning uses in 12 Illinois cities, including Champaign and Urbana. Pat O'Shaughnessy, chairman of the commission, had asked city staff to survey some other cities about their downtown zoning.
Chris Milliken, Danville's planning and zoning manager, said the survey didn't show any drastic differences.
But Danville does allow more types of residential uses in its downtown, including a halfway house, than the other 12 cities in the survey, although Danville does require a special use permit for a halfway house. Milliken said "downtown" is about an 18- to 20-block area with Vermilion Street in the middle, bordered by Williams to the north.
Danville allows single-family, multi-family, manufactured housing, a nursing home, assisted living, a dormitory, rooming and boarding house and family community residence among other residential uses. In all, Danville allows 13 residential uses, more than all the other cities.
Under the commercial-retail trade category and commercial services category, most of the cities had a broad range of allowed uses and most of the communities shared many of the same uses, including cafes, delis, restaurants, bars, art studios, apparel sales, copy and printing service, a funeral home, banks and credit unions and many more.
But Danville was the only city, except Urbana, to allow a check cashing service, except Galesburg to allow a currency exchange, except Urbana to allow a substance abuse center, and besides Urbana and Rockford to allow a counseling service, although Rockford requires a special use permit.
Milliken told the commission members that they can make proposals to consider any changes in Danville's downtown uses.
O'Shaughnessy said if Danville's downtown is going to be a destination for people, then it needs to be a client-friendly place, and he believes the city needs to be more strict about what uses are allowed downtown. He said there are multiple substance abuse treatment centers in the downtown now.
O'Shaughnessy also questioned city planning and zoning officials about making changes to code enforcement in the downtown area. O'Shaughnessy said after the meeting that changes in zoning and codes could help entice more business owners to come downtown.
Milliken said building codes must be applied uniformly across the city. O'Shaughnessy said downtown building owners can be hampered by building codes, because the downtown building stock is much older, so it's more costly to bring up to code. Milliken said other cities address that issue in their downtowns by offering financial incentives to developers or business owners.