The Merced City Council on Monday approved zoning changes to two parcels near G Street’s railroad underpass that would give developers more options to fill the space.
The zoning changed on a 5-1 vote. Councilwoman Mary-Michal Rawling was the dissenting vote, and Councilman Tony Dossetti was absent.
The parcels on the southeast corner of G and 23rd streets border residential neighborhoods. They were given general commercial zoning status, which is less restrictive than the previous zonings. One parcel was low-density residential before Monday’s vote, and the other was neighborhood commercial.
Typical businesses in the general commercial districts, according to city documents, include lumberyards, automobile repair shops, wrecking yards, farm equipment or mobile home sales, and building supply shops.
Never miss a local story.
Rawling said the city should limit the zoning in that part of town because it’s so close to homes. She said the listed uses for general commercial zoning could turn the neighborhoods into highly trafficked areas.
“When I picture that parcel right in the middle of our town, on a major arterial and with homes all around it, I don’t think I’d want to live next to some of these things,” she said.
The propeties were most recently home to Bernie’s Liquor and a single-family residence, which has been vacant since 2010. The city of Merced purchased the properties when preparing to build the $18 million G Street underpass.
City staff found that changing the designations could affects the surrounding neighborhood depending on the proposed projects, city documents show.
Before any business occupies the space all property owners within 300 feet of the site would be notified of the proposed project.
Councilman Mike Murphy said he had some of the same reservations as Rawling at first, but that talks with the developers interested in the space eased those concerns.
“After those conversations, I’m comfortable with this change,” he said.
Murphy said the area will be more consistent with its surroundings by changing the single-family home to a parcel for business.
Councilman Bill Blake said he had spoken with potential developers and that some ideas for the space included a tire and lube shop, expansion of a carwash and an eatery.
“It’s probably going to be a good, beneficial use,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to have much impact.”
The city must sell the site to a developer before any new project would go in.