San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

March 20th, 2008
Kyle looks at CBD-1

By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large

KYLE – Back in 2001, Kyle’s planning and zoning commission (P&Z) worked up an approach to vitalizing downtown, which basically consisted in an old city hall, two tiny grocery stores, a couple moldy county office spaces, five or six dozen homes and one going business concern for every three or four vacant storefronts.

The approach called for mixed uses, so homes could be turned into small professional service buildings or stores.

The idea went over like a lead balloon. As the majority of downtown Kyle consisted in residents, they came out in force to oppose the plan. Later, while Kyle officials revised their zoning codes to stipulate central business district uses, they forged a compromise with downtown residents.

That compromise, which bamboozles residents, business owners and city officials to this day, lies at the heart of Kyle’s latest zoning drama,

The city is considering revisions to CBD-1, a Central Business District (CBD) Lite cooked up by city officials during the 2003 code revisions to mollify downtown residents worried about impending light and noise pollution.

CBD-1 runs basically along Center Street from the west side of Nance Street almost to Rebel Drive. A more full-bodied CBD-2 runs on Center Street from the east side of Nance Street to Interstate-35. CBD-2 allows for full-service restaurants, as well as gasoline and alcohol sales with fewer restrictions on operating hours.

However, the attempt to write a watered-down central business district for the west side of Center Street has frequently turned up confusion.

For example, last week a project went before the P&Z for a Shipley’s Donuts and Quiznos subs store under one roof on Center Street, right in the heart of CBD-1. By accounts, the discussion turned hot as old town advocates protested such a commercial intrusion on the original part of town.

However, as city planning director Shira Rodgers pointed out, the applicant was right on the money as far as identifying permitted uses in CBD-1. The list of such uses specifically includes “fast food sandwich” and “fast food donut.”

Tuesday, Veronica Guzman, owner of Manna from Heaven on Center Street, went to the city council asking for an amendment to CBD-1 allowing small cafes. The untrained eye might have thought such use already was permitted. After all, the last two businesses at that 602 Center Street location, The Motley Menagerie and The Rally Round Bakehouse, both operated restaurants.

As it turns out, the city simply didn’t know until now that the use wasn’t permitted. The inconsistency is revealed due to the recent development of a city staff in Kyle, where the city operated short-handed for years before moving into its larger city hall.

“We’ve been able to get on top of this,” Kyle City Manager Tom Mattis said. “It’s probably a situation where it would have been an issue (in the past) if we had been aware of it.”

Guzman would like to be able to cook a comprehensive menu on the site. For now, she is able to operate if she makes most of the food elsewhere, then takes it to the restaurant to heating and serving the food.

While councilmembers discussed adding small cafes to the permitted uses in CBD-1 Tuesday night, Kyle Mayor Mike Gonzalez said he would like a more comprehensive discussion of CBD-1 to smooth over all the wrinkles. Towards addressing Manna from Heaven’s issue, the city will take the request to add small cafes to CBD-1 to the P&Z.

“If it were as simple as doing something for Manna from Heaven, I don’t think it would be a difficult issue,” Mattis said.

Rodgers said Manna from Heaven “is just the driving force” behind a CBD-1 amendment.

It remains to be seen how the driving forces that necessitated CBD-1 will respond to an amendment.

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