Bellevue Main (copy)

Main Street is one area under consideration for the new zoning overlay. 

The Bellevue Planing and Zoning Commission will hold a workshop on Thursday, Aug. 19, at 6 p.m. to consider a new Business zone overlay district to allow for “multi-housing” developments, or apartment buildings.

The new district would allow for apartments in the commercial core along Main Street. The discussion will also include possible changes to the city’s General Residential and Business zones to allow more flexibility for multifamily housing, including duplexes.

“The overlay district will permit multifamily housing on all properties lying within the district so that the city can provide a more diverse mix of housing opportunities, as noted in the Bellevue Comprehensive Plan,” city staff wrote in a memo issued last month. “During our research we’ve taken a close look at Bellevue Main Street where there are pockets of undeveloped land or lands that are ripe for redevelopment.”

The P&Z Commission will consider parking, snow removal and emergency access requirements for properties in the Business zone, which could see the development of apartment units as small as 550 square feet in size. A map depicting the boundaries of the overlay district will also be presented and considered this week.

Mayor Ned Burns said last month that he was looking forward to how the P&Z responds to the city staff-initiated proposal and hopes that it will eventually provide developers with options to build in the face of the current housing shortage.

“We’ve been working for a while on how to increase housing stock,” Burns said. “This overlay district proposal checks off a lot of boxes for us.”

The proposed overlay district does not limit the number of units that can be built on a city lot. Burns said if the district is approved and passed by the city council, it would benefit the city through increases in construction activity and a resulting increase in the tax base.

“It could help some folks get out of less than desirable housing situations, or so they don’t have to live in an RV on someone’s property or drive an hour to work,” he said.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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