Zoning change seeks to help Denison entertainment, amusements

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
The Denison Planning and Zoning Commissionis recommending a code change that would allow entertainment and amusement venues to locate in downtown Denison.

For several years, Denison leaders have shared a vision of a thriving downtown entertainment district with dining and amusements that draw people to the city's core. Thanks to the planning and zoning commission, that dream came one step close to reality this week.

The commission is recommending the City Council approve a series of zoning ordinance changes with will allow indoor and outdoor amusements to be located in the central area district.

The changes would allow amusement attractions to be located within city's downtown district with a conditional use permit.

"To remain competitive with new businesses new entertainment venues that could potentially come downtown, we wanted to provide a pathway forward for those business opportunities," Denison Senior Planner Bill Medina said.

Under current ordinance, venues, including ice rinks, bowling alleys, indoor tennis courts, martial arts studios and other similar businesses could not be located in downtown, even with a conditional use permit.

This led to issues recently when the city received a request from a axe-throwing venue that wishes to locate on Main Street. Under city code, the venue did not meet the definition of a bar, which limited what avenues it could take to locate itself in downtown.

Medina said he has received other, similar requests, but none are ready to move forward.

"They are going to want to go to this historic downtown — it is a place to be," he said. "We want to just ensure that we are ready for that."

Under the proposed changes, entertainment venues will be required to have a conditional use permit in order to open within the district.

"Whenever we request a conditional use permit, it allows us to dig a little deeper into the type of business use," Medina said. "We get to look into things like traffic, noise, lighting. You need a CUP for that, and we get to look at that."

Medina said the recommendation to change zoning requirements for downtown fits within the vision leaders have touted in recent years regarding the future of downtown. By allowing for this change, Medina said leaders will be reducing a barrier for these desired businesses.

"You hear the mayor and our city leaders talking all the time about how we want to be the community of choice. That includes our residential developers but also our entertainment developments as well."

The City Council is expected to take action on the request in early December.