Iowa City City Council talks Riverfront Crossing rezoning in public forum

Iowa City City Council passed an ordinance to move forward with the rezoning efforts of the Kum & Go located at South Gilbert Street near the Riverfront Crossings area, at its meeting Tuesday.

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Iowa City City Council talks Riverfront Crossing rezoning in public forum

Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton speaks during a City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 at City Hall.

Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton speaks during a City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 at City Hall.

Emily Wangen

Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton speaks during a City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 at City Hall.

Emily Wangen

Emily Wangen

Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton speaks during a City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 at City Hall.

Hannah Rovner, News Reporter

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The Iowa City City Council held a public forum Tuesday night on the rezoning of Gilbert Street stretching all the way to Highland Avenue, where a Kum & Go gas station is currently located and there are high volumes of traffic.

The rezoning conversation came before the board previously due to the involvement of the Riverfront Crossings area of South Gilbert Street, and a first motion for the ordinance passed unanimously at the council meeting Tuesday.

Each city councilor raised concerns about the effect of the rezoning on the city’s Climate Action Plan, particularly about the Kum & Go location.

“If some of this area could have preparation made for electric charging stations and bike area, we hope [Kum & Go] joins the city’s journey with our rigorous climate action plan,” City Councilor Bruce Teague said.

RELATED: Proposed Riverfront Crossings development awaits Iowa City City Council approval

Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton said he was struck by how much space the rezoned area would dedicate to parking and noted that the new parking area is almost three times the size of that currently offered by the Kum & Go location.

City Councilor Rockne Cole questioned the allowance of electric charging sites, noting that gas stations are not currently required to install electric charging sites.

Iowa City Development Services Coordinator Danielle Sitzman said the city would look into adapting the guidelines to accommodate the electric charging sites.

Cole provided his support for the project and commended Kum & Go for including greenery in its design, saying that this convenience store can become more of an amenity to the area.

During the public hearing Tuesday, Sitzman shared a history of the property and the plan for its future with the rezoning.

According to city documents, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning by a unanimous vote in November, subject to the following conditions: closing all access points along South Gilbert Street, reducing the number of access points along Highland Aveune to one, and the dedication of additional right-of-way to Iowa City.

The ordinance states that an approximate 1.15 acres would need to be rezoned in the Riverfront Crossings area.Riverfront Crossings was discussed in a Good Neighbor meeting Oct. 23 to address neighborhood concerns, which allowed the project to move forward in Tuesday’s public hearing.

According to the Riverfront Crossings plan, the building requires storefronts to be oriented toward the street corner. Sitzman said this design will fit in well with the retail nature of the surrounding area.

“I appreciate the conditions of not allowing access of Gilbert [stated in the plans] and only allowing access to Highland. It is a hard corner [for traffic to turn],” Teague said.

Throgmorton addressed the city’s bike master plan and elaborated upon its climate-action efforts.

“We should look back to zoning rules. If we are serious about the [climate action plan], we need to seriously consider looking into requiring bike racks and electric vehicle charging stations,” Throgmorton said.

RELATED: Iowa City City Council defers Riverfront Crossing rezoning again

 

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