City may clear way for taller buildings in harbor district

December 29, 2006 11:00 pm

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

The harbor district soon may be graced with tall buildings that are

home to people and businesses with parking beneath them.

When Crescent City councilors meet today, a proposal taking the first

step allowing such a change will come before them.

At issue is a zone change.

Sent to council by the city Planning Commission on Thursday, the

proposal seeks to modify the height limit in the Commercial

Manufacturing District from 45 feet to 70 feet.

"The Coastal Commission is OK with it," said Will Caplinger, city

planner. "We want a demonstration project to show that we can comply

with the FEMA regs for height."

The proposal builds on a matter commissioners approved Dec. 14, which

recommends that condominium uses in a mixed-use development at 270

U.S. Hwy. 101, be allowed through a permitting process. That's the

site at the highway's "S" curve, which was once home to several

iterations of a seafood company.

Further investigation of the site found that the property was

probably fouled by petroleum or other hazardous substances because an

auto service business used to be there. An underground fuel tank may

still remain.

The latest recommendation was built off the December decision for

several reasons:

•The structure remaining is dilapidated and must be torn down.

•The area is in a Special Flood Hazard Area — a Federal Emergency

Management Agency designation that has its own regulations, which

means the lowest floor of any replacement that's built has to be at

least 17 feet above the site's grade. Because the space between the

floor and the ground can't be enclosed, any structure essentially

would be raised on pilings.

•To build in compliance with Federal Emergency Management Agency

requirements, development costs at the 45-feet height limit that's

now in effect would be prohibitive.

Since the nearby area founded by Front and Third Streets and A and K

Streets allows buildings up to 70 feet high, planning commissioners

want the 270 Hwy. 101 site to do so as well.

•••••

If you go

•What: City Council meeting

•When: 5:30 p.m. today

•Where: Cultural Center on Front Street