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Staff writer

The Camden City Council will hold its regularly-scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers of the Camden Municipal Building. During this meeting, at which time the Camden Planning Commission will introduce an ordinance concerning residential zoning and certain areas of business space downtown.

A letter sent out by Camden Code Enforcement Officer Travis Daniel stated:

“The City of Camden is interested in exploring options to increase the viability of our downtown.

“You are receiving this letter because we would like your input on this information. If you have any comments, words of support, or words against this proposal, please let us know. If you are able to put these comments in writing, either an email letter, or text, we will add the comments to the proposal for the City Council’s consideration

“The first reading of the proposed ordinance will be at the February 12 2019 City Council meeting. The Council may choose to vote on the ordinance at this meeting or postpone it until a subsequent meeting. The Council Meeting is open the public and people will have a chance during the Audience Participation” portion at the beginning of the Council about your thoughts on the ideas.

“The Historic Preservation portion of the proposal would not be on the table at this meeting We would like to have several more meetings or workshops to work out this portion which would include speakers from the State Historic Preservation Office who could answer questions.”

The Planning Commission has its eyes on a three-tier incentive package to encourage growth downtown that would include:

  1. Loosening zoning regulations by allowing residential uses on the ground floor of the central business district.
  2. A five-year moratorium on building permit fees down town.
  3. A local historical overlay district to take advantage of state and federal tax credits.

According to Daniel, the bottom floor of office space downtown is currently reserved for businesses. The proposal would allow apartments to be built and in the hopes of the commission, ” buildings that were previously unmarketable as 300 square feet of commercial space with 30 foot storefront, now become much more valuable.”

The proposed amendment states:

Ordinance No. 3-19

An ordinance to amend the City of Camden zoning ordinance to allow residential uses in certain zones.

“Whereas, the Planning Commission is interested in encouraging new growth in the City of Camden and understands the important role a vibrant Central Business District has in promoting this new activity and growth, and;

“Whereas, an attractive, walkable, and occupied CBD is the heart of a City and is often what defines a City’s identity, a

“Whereas, the Planning Commission is interested in options that would allow developers in the CBD to increase property values by the development of new residential units on the ground floor in what would become a mixed use occupancy that otherwise would not be allowed in the City’s current zoning ordinance:

“Now, therefore, be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Camden, Arkansas, that:

“Section 1: The following subsection of the City of Camden’s Zoning ordinance is amended by inserting the underlined portion as follows: 7.15 Residential Uses in C-1 (Professional Office). C-3 (Central Commercial District),and C-4 (General Commercial).

“Residential uses excluding boarding houses or lodging houses shall be permitted in C-1, C 3, and C-4 provided such uses conform to all of the following conditions and requirements

“1. Residential uses shall be located above at least one story of non-residential uses with each dwelling having a minimum floor area of 350 SF per dwelling unit and forming a single habitable unit with facilities for living, sleeping, and cooking.

“Exception: Only in C3, residential uses shall be permitted on the ground floor provided the residential units does not occupy more than 60% of the gross square footage of the building’s ground floor, and the full width of the front of the structure remains a commercial occupancy. All units in the same building shall have a local interconnected fire alarm system

“2. The Building Inspector or his designated representative is hereby authorized and directed to make such inspections as are necessary to determine the satisfactory compliance with this ordinance.”

During the mayor’s report portion of Tuesday’s meeting, Camden Fire Chief Robert Medford will deliver the Annual Fire Department Report, and Camden Police Chief Boyd Woody will deliver the Annual Police Department Report.

New business will include:

  1. Ordinance No. 03-19, an ordinance amending the City of Camden Zoning Ordinance to allow residential uses in certain zones.
  2. Ordinance No. 04-19, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 239 Monroe Street NE.
  3. Ordinance No. 05-19, an ordinance permitting an elected official to be interested in contracts with the City of Camden, Arkansas.
  4. Ordinance No. 06-19, an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 12-10 separating and establishing the elected office of city clerk and appointed office of city treasurer, and for other purposes.
  5. Resolution No. 10-19, a resolution confirming the appointment of Garrome P. Franklin to the Airport Commission.
  6. Resolution No. 11-19, a resolution confirming the appointment of Gregory Nettles to the Civil Service Commission.
  7. Resolution No. 12-19, a resolution awarding the bid for the purchase of two (2) New 2018 Police Package Sedan Vehicles for the Camden Police Department.
  8. Resolution No. 13-19, a resolution authorizing a budget amendment for salary increase to the following Fire Department Classifications: Assistant fire chief, fire captain and fire lieutenant.

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