Carbondale Tables Zoning Discussion
JACKSON COUNTY -- Carbondale's City Council is trying to figure out what to do with old public buildings that have been converted for new business use. Buildings like the armory and old high school fall into that category. As it stands, those buildings aren't in compliance with zoning laws because they sit in the middle of residential neighborhoods.
City leaders first chose to revisit the zoning about a year ago. They said Tuesday that properties like the armory are breaking city code.
“They are already prohibited because they are not allowed in the R-1 Zone, and the attempt that was going on here was to modify the zoning ordinance,” Mayor Don Monty said.
A big point of contention is how to classify the possible uses; either as permitted or special, evaluated on a case by case basis.
“If you already have a room to a certain use and it’s still functioning that way or could function that way, then maybe there’s some way to grandfather it in,” advised Councilwoman Jessica Bradshaw.
One side of the building is a business called Five Rings Armory, a shooting range and gun shop. Thomas Raleigh is a frequent customer.
“I think it’s important this buildings here and at the end of the day, it’s an armory,” he urged.
Raleigh hopes city leaders won't force them out.
“Really consider the repercussions of your decisions. This is his business and his livelihood,” he added.
Neighbors say they don't have any issues with the two businesses inside the old armory.
“I see people going in there, but they're quiet. They don't really disturb us at all,” Amanda Bertrand shared.
“They're not doing any harm. Let him have his business. It’s not ruining the neighborhood. It’s not ruining the neighborhood more than another abandoned building would,” said Mark Robinson.
He’s no stranger to zoning issues with the council, having owned a nearby warehouse years ago. Yet Robinson wasn't able to use it for any other purpose. He hopes the armory won't suffer the same fate.
“There’s been guns in there since the great depression, the 1930’s armory. It’s made to have guns in it,” Robinson enthused.
Both the council and business owners hope for more open communication going forward. They haven't set a deadline for a decision.
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