June 20, 2021

City allows retail sales in I-L districts

Property owners must still get permit approved by zoning board of adjustment

The city will now allow general retail sales as a conditional use within light industrial (I-L) zoning districts in Newton, with no limitations on the percentage of the facility’s business coming from retail.

On May 3, the Newton City Council approved the third and final consideration to amend the city’s ordinances regarding land usage areas of town zoned I-L.

The intent of an I-L district “is a low impact industrial, business and research area set aside for the location of enterprises that have negligible environmental impacts beyond their property limits.”

Under the previous zoning ordinance, retail sales were only allowed within an I-L zone as a secondary use, meaning it could only account for no more than 50 percent of the facility’s business.

However, a Newton citizen — Robert Smith — submitted a request to the city to consider amending the ordinance allowing for retail sales as a primary use, or up to 100 percent of the facility’s business.

In March, Smith explained his motivation behind opening a retail store on his property to the Newton Planning and Zoning Commission. The property, Smith said, would be converted into a retail gift shop.

The amended ordinance applies to all properties within the I-L zoning districts so long as they acquire a conditional use permit, which still have to be approved by the Newton Zoning Board of Adjustment.

City documents stated the placement of general retail sales under “conditional uses” would allow the zoning board of adjustment to evaluate certain criteria specific to a given property.

The added review process by the zoning board of adjustment will also help to ensure the retail use is comparable with the surrounding neighborhood, which will be notified of the proposed change in use to the given property.

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.