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The Red Bank City Commission meets at city hall Tuesday, Jan. 7. From left are Commissioner Tyler Howell, Vice Mayor Ruth Jeno, City Manager Tim Thornbury, Mayor Eddie Pierce, City Attorney Arnold Stulce, and Commissioners Carol Rose and Ed LeCompte. / Staff photo by Emily Crisman

The Red Bank City Commission is postponing the final vote on an ordinance that would suspend enforcement of the design review standards the city adopted in 2017.

If enacted, the moratorium would last a period of up to one year or until new standards are adopted, whichever comes first.

Commissioners unanimously approved the moratorium ordinance at their Dec. 3 meeting. At that time, Mayor Eddie Pierce said the intention of the design review standards is to increase the city's livability and citizens' quality of life, but the inconveniences and hardships current and potential commercial property owners face in complying with the standards may have resulted in businesses choosing not to expand or open in Red Bank.

"Any time that you create an ordinance ... over time, when you're working with it, you realize maybe there needs to be changes to tweak it, because maybe certain areas weren't working as you thought they might," said City Manager Tim Thornbury. "We're going back and tweaking some areas within it to make it more viable and make it work."

This review was not prompted by feedback from any specific business, said Pierce. However, Thornbury said the city has had businesses express interest in coming into Red Bank that never followed up after seeing the city's design standards.

Standards the commissioners are reviewing include setback, sidewalk and landscaping requirements, said Thornbury.

Currently, businesses with more than 25 parking spaces must plant one tree for every 10 spaces on islands within the lot, he said as an example. To make it easier for smaller businesses to comply, the city plans to change the requirement to apply only to businesses with 50 or more spaces, which would then only be required to plant one tree for every 20 spaces, said Thornbury.

Also, rather than the current requirement that sidewalks be a minimum of 7 feet wide, he said the new ordinance would mandate that sidewalks meet current Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

While the current standards leave officials little leeway to work with businesses that may have issues with complying, commissioners plan to change the ordinance to allow for exceptions on a case-by-case basis, Thornbury added.

Reviewing the standards is taking less time than commissioners initially thought, so at the moratorium ordinance's scheduled second vote Jan. 7, they decided to table it in the hopes that they could finish the review and establish new standards without passing a moratorium, said Pierce.

The vote was tabled until the commission's meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. at city hall.

Email Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com.

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