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Battle Ground City Council approves downtown zoning change that affects automotive businesses

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 6, 2024, 5:51pm

With little discussion, the Battle Ground City Council on Monday unanimously approved a zoning change that will affect automotive businesses in the downtown commercial district.

During the council’s Jan. 2 discussion on the proposed zoning change, City Manager Erin Erdman said the need for the zoning changes came to staff’s attention as they were working on the Grace Avenue realignment project and downtown revitalization project planning.

Erdman told the council the zoning changes would “allow for expansion of existing automobile service stations in the downtown area.”

To expand businesses, owners would need to have additional screening such as fencing or landscaping around the property, move vehicle storage and goods indoors and move storage areas to the back of the property.

“The intention behind this is to clean up areas where we have a lot of outdoor storage of an industrial nature — that are preexisting — to be able to house them internally or behind fenced gates,” Erdman told the council.

Under the revised zoning, all outside storage areas must be screened by a 6-foot solid or chain link fence. Setback, buffers, parking and height requirements could vary depending on zoned use.

“There’s only two automotive businesses in the downtown commercial district. They’ve been there for years … probably before we had a downtown,” Deputy Mayor Shane Bowman said during the Jan. 2 meeting.

Bowman said the issue came up recently because one of the businesses, which had lost part of its property to the city for the Grace Avenue realignment project, was looking to expand by purchasing a neighboring parcel.

Bowman said the business owner discovered zoning changes would be needed to expand to the new property. Without the zoning changes in place, Erdman said neither business would be able to expand.

“I think this is great because this allows businesses in town to expand and puts the parking lot behind a fence,” Mayor Troy McCoy said. “I like the thought that went into this. I think it’s a great example of our city working with local business owners.”

The council was scheduled to review the proposed changes at its Jan. 16 meeting, but that meeting was canceled due to severe winter weather.

Owners of both businesses affected by the zoning change were not immediately available for comment.

Full recordings of Battle Ground council meetings are available at www.youtube.com/@battlegroundcitycouncil1129.

The zoning ordinance can be found in the meeting agendas at www.cityofbg.org/agendacenter.

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