Updated: August 26, 2014 2:10AM
Lockport is considering making it tougher for certain businesses such as thrift stores, loan shops and private contractor offices to locate in the downtown historic district.
“The intention is to preserve the historic nature of what we have in our area,” Pamela Hirth, Lockport’s economic development director, said last week at a city council committee meeting. “We want businesses that will draw people.”
Hirth proposed an amendment to the city code that would require some types of businesses to obtain a special use zoning permit to open in the historic district. The proposed amendment has been approved by the city’s planning and zoning commission.
Ald. Kelly Turner (2nd) asked for a definition of contractor offices, and Hirth said they were construction-related, such as plumbing and electrical contractors, but professional offices (such as for doctors, attorneys and dentists) would still be allowed.
Turner said he has lived in downtown Lockport for a long time, and the only businesses that really attract people are bars and restaurants.
“I’m careful not to restrict businesses downtown,” he said. “... We want businesses that survive.”
Mayor Steven Streit said the restriction on private contractors is meant to prevent something such as an office where construction equipment is stored and that’s not open every weekday.
“I’m good with this (proposal),” Streit said. “I don’t mean to restrict things, but we are only talking about a small place (of the downtown).”
Hirth said the planning and zoning commission also has approved a change in the city’s definition of thrift shops to include consignment and resale stores.
The proposed amendment is scheduled to be voted on at the Sept. 3 city council meeting.
On another matter, aldermen were favorable to a proposed installation of a large digital billboard at the Lockport Square shopping center on 159th Street. The sign would display eight- to 10-second advertisements from local businesses, and the city could display up to 388,800 community and public service messages per year, city administrator Ben Benson said.