Howell Planning Commissioners, happy with the current mix of businesses, have shut down the idea of changing a downtown ordinance.

“If it ain’t broke…” began Chairman Paul Streng, who let the familiar idiom trail off before finishing it. That was opinion of most Howell Planning Commissioners when faced with question of potentially changing an ordinance that dealt with first floor uses in the downtown area. Community Development Director Tim Schmitt said this was part of the city’s 2017 ordinance update that the planning commission didn’t want to go through with last year. Schmitt recently had the planning firm Carlisle Wortman look through the downtown zoning and offer options that could successfully promote a healthy downtown, if the planning commission wanted to attack it at this time.

One of the goals is to create a walkable downtown that doesn’t have too many businesses that are closed at night. The idea is to get a mix of retail and office, but if there are too many dentists, real estate offices, or the like that close at 5pm, that can kill foot traffic and change the dynamic of the area. One possible ordinance change would be to put future offices on the second floor, leaving the first open for retail. Many Commissioners felt they already have a good mix, and that opening this ordinance is unnecessary. Mayor Nick Proctor agreed, saying he didn’t view the city as having a problem now, but cautioned that there may be a tipping point somewhere down the line. Unknowing how future Commissions may handle the change if it should come, he set the question of whether they should be proactive now or reactive later.

Pleased with the current mix, the Commission decided to do nothing on the matter until a time when they deem it more necessary. (MK)