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This large residential-commercial development has been proposed at the foot of College Hill

CEDAR FALLS — College Hill is one step closer to new parking rules that would clear the way for a five-story, mixed-use apartment complex.

The Cedar Falls Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4 to 3 to approve a zoning amendment to change parking requirements for mixed-use buildings in the College Hill overlay district.

The amendment requires one parking stall per bedroom, but not less than one parking stall per unit for upper floor residential dwellings in mixed-use buildings. It also gets rid of the visitor parking requirement.

“We have ambiguous and confusing language in the code that’s caused a lot frustration on the part of the commission, staff, developers and the community” said Karen Howard, planning and community services manager.

The amendment requires fewer parking spots for multi-dwelling buildings — one stall per bedroom — instead of two stalls per unit and one additional stall per bedroom in excess of two. It also changes the wording from residence to dwelling and clarifies language and eliminates the idea of secondary uses and defines a mixed-use building.

The amendment is intended as a temporary fix until a detailed parking study can be done on the district, Howard said. A parking study, similar to what’s being done in the downtown district, is being considered for College Hill.

Eashaan Vajpeyi, an attorney who represents College Hill developer Brian Sires, spoke against out against the code, along with Sires and Jerry Geisler.

“We need to not go with (one stall per) bedroom, we need to go one-plus parking stalls per bedroom,” Geisler said. He advised 1.75 parking stalls were needed per bedroom.

Geisler, a landlord on College Hill, noted every student has a car, and often one bedroom apartments are occupied by more than one individual.

“When you’ve got two people in a one-bedroom apartment, those people are occupying space for a long period of time,” Sires said.

Commissioner LeaAnn Saul didn’t want to pass the amendment before a parking study was done on the district.

“What happens if we find that we do need more than 1.75 parking stalls per unit once the study is done and now we don’t have it?” Saul asked.

Kamyar Enshayan, president of the College Hill Partnership, spoke in favor of the amendment. “I want to emphasize our goal is vitality on the Hill and walk-ability,” he said.

Commissioners Chelle Adkins, Deb Giarusso and Saul voted against the amendment. Mardy Holst abstained, but changed his vote to yes after Howard noted the commission was short-handed due to two commission members being absent.

The amendment will go before the Cedar Falls City Council at a later date.

The commission voted to 6 to 1 to defer action on a site plan for a multi-use building with 31 apartments at the bottom of College Hill at 2119 College St., 1003 W. 22nd St. and the former Ginger’s bar location at 922 W. 22nd St., until council votes on the zoning amendment.

The site plan was proposed by Brent Dahlstrom. Brian Wingert was the lone vote against deferment.

Two previous attempts were rejected because of parking. The current site plan and the zoning amendment line up.

The commission deferred the vote on the project at their Dec. 12 meeting because Commission members want to clarify zoning rules in the College Hill Overlay District.

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