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posted: 5/9/2014 5:30 AM

Batavia might extend ban on new non retail uses on Randall Road

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Batavia aldermen are poised to extend a moratorium preventing businesses that wouldn't generate sales tax from opening in its biggest commercial districts.

The city council will vote on a three-month extension May 19.

That would give city officials time to finish research on whether a compromise can be found between generating sales tax and filling empty spaces along Randall Road, such as that left by the departure of the Circuit City electronics store.

City planners have proposed letting nonretail uses, such as fitness centers and offices, occupy no more than 50 percent of shopping centers in general commercial districts. Aldermen Tuesday suggested allowing even less, according to Scott Buening, the city's community development director. Buening said the city will study existing ratios in its shopping centers.

Randall Road from Main Street to Fabyan Parkway is Batavia's largest general commercial district. The other areas zoned for general commercial use are vacant sites farther south on Randall, and at Fabyan and Kirk roads.

Mayor Jeff Schielke had suggested the ban after a physical therapy office wanted to open in a strip center on Randall near Wal-Mart. The council enacted the ban in early December.

The city relies on sales taxes to pay for about 29 percent of its general fund activities, according to the 2014 budget, The general fund budget did not include utility-related operations and debt.

In March, the city raised its portion of the sales tax, saying it would spend the money to pay for some of the electrical utility costs.

After the budget was adopted, the city increased the sales tax and said it would dedicate the increase in revenue toward paying the cost of electricity.

Under the ban, the city won't consider any annexation agreements for projects that include such businesses. It also won't take applications for ones already within its borders. The exception is when the use was previously approved when the development was approved.

The ban includes new ATM facilities, banks, business services, dry-cleaning, laundry, entertainment, recreation, health care, pawn or personal services businesses, as well as government uses.

At the time, Schielke said a fitness center chain was considering moving in to the Circuit City space at Fabyan and Randall.

In 2003 the city put a moratorium on banks being built along Randall, then decided to allow them. Those with drive-through lanes had to be set back at least 250 feet from major roads.

The city is also considering banning the sale of medicinal marijuana in general commercial districts, because sales tax won't be charged on it, according to a memo to the council.

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