On Tuesday the Baldwin County Commission approved a new zoning designation intended to ease the concerns of residents who have feared businesses opening near their homes and historic districts would open the door to less desirable ones in the future.
The new zoning, called the Limited Business District, would be more restrictive than the B-2 neighborhood business district but allow more than the county’s B-1 professional business district. It is intended to provide a designation for people who want to start a business without opening the door to big box stores, liquor stores and nightclubs in areas near neighborhoods and historic districts.
“The purpose of this new designation is to provide zoning for smaller commercial operations,” Baldwin County Planning Director Vince Jackson said. “This will allow people who want to open some sort of small business without having to apply for a zoning designation that would open the parcel up to other, less desirable allowances in the future.”
The County Commission voted 4-0 to approve the new designation, with commissioners hailing the decision as something that will ease the concerns of residents but meet the needs of entrepreneurs in the county.
“This is a really big deal and fills a significant hole that we have had in our zoning designations,” Commissioner Chris Elliott said. “This allows people to do what they really want to do and relieves some of the concerns people have had when their neighbors want to open a small business. This is a great change to accommodate what the public really wants.”
The county’s B-2 zoning allows for a wide range of commercial options like antique stores, art galleries, retail bakeries, bed and breakfasts, cafes, bookstores or neighborhood convenience stores to night clubs, amusement arcades or liquor stores. The county’s B-1 district is more restrictive, allowing banks, barber shops, child care centers, churches, libraries and scientific, medical or dental laboratories and offices.
The new designation would allow for some uses already included in both B-1 and B-2 districts, but will not include nightclubs or liquor stores.
“If we had this a few years ago we wouldn’t have had as much heart ache over some zoning decisions in the past,” Commissioner Skip Gruber said. “This opens the field up a little better, and it does away with big box fears if someone just wants to have a smaller, mom-and-pop style business.”