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Planning commission recommends change to city parking requirements

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Minimum parking requirements for many nonresidential buildings in Columbia could be a thing of the past later this year if proposed changes to zoning regulations are approved.

At its Thursday meeting, the City of Columbia Planning Commission recommended a proposed amendment to the city’s zoning text that would eliminate minimum parking requirements for nonresidential structures of 7,500 square feet or less. The amendment also completely eliminates minimum parking requirements for five zoning districts: NAC (neighborhood activity center/corridor district), CAC (community activity center/corridor district), RAC (regional activity center/corridor district), MU-1 and MU-2 (mixed-use).

The parking changes must now be approved by Columbia City Council and will most likely appear on the agenda in September, according to Krista Hampton, director of planning and development services for the city.

The change was one of several recommended last month by many city business leaders and community members who said the change will be a help to small businesses. Businesses in buildings this size will no longer have to provide on-site parking or rent off-site parking in order to receive an occupancy permit.

“As the city of Columbia continues its efforts to bring economic growth to our city, any changes that relieve burdens that affect businesses are welcome ones,” Carl Blackstone, president and CEO of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, said at the meeting and in an emailed statement.

Blackstone said the amendment will also help relieve blights on the city’s landscape in the form of large parking lots that have fallen into disrepair.

“These areas can now be developed to create new opportunities for small businesses, further growing the number of offerings to nearby neighborhoods,” Blackstone said. “With the barrier of minimum parking requirements lifted, small businesses will have more opportunity to invest in our city.”

Reach Christina Lee Knauss at 803-753-4327.

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