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Recreational uses to be allowed in industrial zones
City has control through Conditional Use Permitm process
Recreational uses will be allowed in both General and Light Industrial zones with a conditional use permit. The City Council decided last week to allow the uses, after Bonsu Elite Athletics moved into the industrial area on Railroad Avenue without the citys knowledge or permission. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

The city is on its way to officially allowing some recreational uses - such as indoor soccer, archery and shooting ranges, batting cages, slot car racing, health clubs, martial arts, karate or dance studios - to operate within industrial areas.

Last week the Ceres City Council held a public hearing - in which no one spoke - and approved the ordinance. It has to clear one more hurdle, a second passage, before it would take effect next month. Once it passes, recreational uses will be allowed in the M-1 Light Industrial district and M-2 General Industrial District through a Conditional Use Permit issued by the Planning Commission.

"Their project would be evaluated just like any other project," said Tom Westbrook, the city's director of Community Development, "for parking, etc., and getting permits and approvals."

In September the council said it wished to allow recreational ventures inside of existing industrial buildings but wasn't willing to allow so-called "occupancy uses," namely churches, bingo halls and other social halls from setting up shop in industrial zones.

The matter came before the council in the aftermath of an issue with Bonsu Elite Athletics, which managed to get into an industrial building on Railroad Avenue earlier this year without the city knowing about it first.

In August, the Ceres Planning Commission voted to recommend that the council not allow recreational uses in industrial zones. Westbrook said the commission was concerned that recreational uses could hog up space for retailers and thus hurting the city's ability to generate sales tax revenue. However, the council said in September that it wanted to make the allowance and shipped it back to the commission which endorsed by a 5-0 vote in November the council's new direction.

"These types of (recreation) uses generally are looking for large open spaces," said Westbrook. "Commercial rents are going to be more expensive than what the industrial rate will be. The council thought it was important to preserve the commercial areas for maybe some sales tax generating uses and therefore migrating some of these folks who would like to apply for use permits in the industrial to areas that may be suitable for them. But in all circumstances, those approvals will be based on their merits and evaluated through the Conditional Use Permit process."

Councilmember Linda Ryno liked the idea of allowing recreational uses like Bonsu in the industrial zone as long as a CUP is required. She said the process will allow the city to keep an eye on potential parking and traffic issues created by those uses.