MONMOUTH — Suzanne Dufner, community development director, said the city was approached by Jonathan and Lisa Sheirman about changing the city code to allow second-story residential units on properties zoned for commercial office use.
Dufner presented the request to Monmouth city councilors at their Nov. 19 work session.
The Sheirmans, who own a real estate office at 1220 Main St. E., want to expand their office and build two residential apartments on the second floor of the proposed expansion.
Currently, the code allows one caretaker residence, occupied by the owner, manager or operator of the permitted commercial office activity, Dufner said in her report to councilors.
Zoning “separated everything out, and that created a lot of traffic problems and transportation nightmares, so now we’re reversing that and bringing our uses back together for the most part,” Dufner said. “That (code) was written in the ’80s — those were good years, but times are changing.”
Dufner said there are a lot of benefits to mixed-use zoning and putting housing closer to places of employment.
“When I took this to the planning commission, we looked at several different options,” she said. “The one we’re bringing forward is to be able to allow residential on second floor only.”
They want to make sure they encourage the commercial primary use.
Putting apartments on the second floor would not take away from the commercial use properties.
Councilor Jon Carey said he heard the planning commission discussion about this request.
“This is good use of that space,” Carey said. “It would be good use in an isolated area, in my opinion.”
Height was an area of concern brought up during the planning commission discussion, Carey said, because a of an adjacent residential property.
“I guess we want to think if we want to be a little bit sensitive to 45 feet, looking into somebody’s backyard,” Carey said.
Councilor Roxanne Beltz said it is good to have people living above where people are working.
“It actually gets bodies there in a time when there’s not typically people, and that’s a good thing because that has a little extra security there as well,” she said.
Dufner said the code, with suggested changes, will come back to the council and there will be a public hearing.