Brentwood planning advisers have OK’d initial regulatory steps to woo new retailers and hotels.
Important changes will ease requirements for large-scale retail businesses — 75,000 square feet and greater — looking to move into certain locations; streamline hotel development on certain sites; increase allowable hotel heights in one area; and permit an auto fueling station in certain spots, provided they are accessories to sizable retail anchors.
The Brentwood Planning Commission has formally recommended the amendments, which will soon go to the full city council for approval.
“The city’s primary intent in enacting these amendments is to encourage development of retail establishments and hotels to promote economic development,” said Brentwood Senior Analyst Joshua Ewen. “These types of development are beneficial for the city’s economy, since they can generate significant local sales tax revenue, transient occupancy tax (generated by lodging guests) and produce secondary economic benefits as customers, employees and visitors patronize other nearby businesses.”
Arguably the biggest changes are those that will smooth out the permit processes for certain large-scale retail businesses. Key sites where these would apply include a designated development area bordered by Lone Tree Way, Empire Avenue and the Union Pacific Railroad and a second locale dubbed the Sand Creek Development Plan Area.
“What this would do is allow a retail use to be treated uniformly as permitted, with no differentiation between square footage for big-box vs. standard routine retail,” Ewen said. “All city and planned development standards and guidelines will still apply for each planned development area, as well as city guidelines, as part of the development application process.”
Another key change would permit and encourage hotel construction in central commercial zones, including around the John Muir Medical Campus site and portions of Sciortino Ranch, east of Brentwood Boulevard and west of Garin Parkway, on both sides of Sand Creek Road.
The majority of those areas mandate additional permitting prior to hotel projects moving forward, according to a staff report.
In addition to easing those requirements, hotel height restrictions in a portion of the Sand Creek Development Plan area will increase from three stories and/or 50 feet to four stories and/or 60 feet to closely match national brand hotel market trends.
City officials noted that the recent State Route 4 improvements offer high-visibility hotel sites, and hotels in general are needed for a diversified economy and to bring other tourism and events-industry benefits.
Officials added that hotels would complement the area near the John Muir Medical Campus site, which already features a lot of activity.
“This project is intended to streamline the development of these types of beneficial development,” said Assistant City Manager Terrence Grindall.
Another significant change, preliminarily recommended, is a citywide ban on motels —largely to preserve the community’s safety, Grindall said.
Hotels offer room access through interior lobbies or hallways, while motel rooms can be reached through exterior doors, a city staff report explains. The report also notes that hotels are desirable for providing needed short-term accommodations for business or leisure travelers, while motels are often low price point lodging establishments, with no overnight management and minimal guest amenities or services. There are currently no motels in the city.
“City code currently doesn’t differentiate between hotels and motels,” Grindall said. “Motels in general have the potential for public safety problems, because people can access the motel directly from the parking lot. Our police department suggests we build more hotels, not motels.”
The planning commission, the first advisory body to view the proposed citywide amendments, appeared to welcome the changes, with some minor modifications.
The commission suggested, for example, that an additional permit be required for proposed large retailers in the Sciortino Ranch area, due to longtime community concerns that the area isn’t large enough for such development.
Planning commissioners Dirk Ziegler and Emily Cross questioned whether the fire district has the equipment to address four-story building emergencies — referring to the increased hotel height — but Grindall said that any associated concerns would be addressed if or when a proposed project of that size materialized.
Aside from those questions, the commission praised the changes.
“Economic development is something that we could use more of here in Brentwood,” said Planning Commissioner Anita Roberts.
Ziegler said, in total, he liked the code changes.
The council is slated to consider the proposed changes at a future meeting, the date of which has not been announced.
For more information on the changes, see packet page 32 at bit.ly/3bRpNEN.