We conducted our first meeting as the Renaissance Park Commission. Two significant issues were discussed. The first involved establishing our commission as the single authoritative body to approve applications and approvals for housing and institutions, businesses, etc. that do business within the district. Presently, the ordinance indicates that an applicant can choose either the Renaissance Park Commission or the Zoning Commission (or Zoning Board of Appeals, as appropriate) from which to proceed. It generally has been felt that having a single authoritative body would be less confusing to potential applicants.
As background, the Renaissance Park Commission is unique among Peoria’s commissions in that it has zoning powers. After much discussion, it’ll be recommended to the Peoria City Council that our commission be the single authority to process and approve applications within the district. Ironically, the next step in the process is for our recommendation to go to the Zoning Commission for discussion. Representatives from both commissions will meet to work out a mutual understanding.
We believe at this point in the early development of our district that our commission is the best place for applicants to apply since we have a very strong vested interest in ensuring design guidelines, etc. meet the goals our entire district has worked to establish.
The second significant issue involved a recommendation to the council for a change in the original ordinance as it relates to membership on the commission. Presently, one of the representatives on the commission must be a small business owner within the district. It was suggested that the West Main Street Business Association would be more appropriate as the small business group within the district to represent small business owners’ interests. We were informed that roughly 40 small businesses are located within the district, of which 15 small businesses are members of the association. Again, after much discussion, the commission will recommend to the Peoria City Council to change the ordinance that would allow the West Main Street Business Association be represented as a voting member of the commission. While not a unanimous vote, I believe the consensus was that having a Small Business Association representative was an important constituency within the district.
Concerns were expressed that the Small Business Association needed to represent the majority of business owners and should work to increase their membership so a majority of the interests of small business—not just a small minority—would be heard. The West Main Street Small Business Association agreed to expand its membership to include all small businesses within the district.
We thanked Tasha Morris for the time and dedication she gave to the commission through her role in representing the University East Neighborhood. We welcomed her replacement, Golda Ewalt, and look forward to working with her.
The commission started this year with a new name, new ideas, and some new blood. What a great way to begin the new year. IBI