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Public hearing set on downtown health clubs

By Grace Lovins

A public hearing discussing a new health club and studio use was set by the Birmingham Planning Board during their meeting on Wednesday, August 9, moving forward with the process to bring the use to the city’s downtown.

Board members have held two previous study sessions between June and July on the proposed use. City staff brought health club and studio uses for review in hopes, saying they believe the use would be good in the downtown zone and it might have a multiplier effect on downtown businesses.

At the board’s last study session on July 12, members came to an agreement that they don’t want a health club use on the first level of a building. Instead, they focused on allowing the use on basement levels and second floor and above, with most board members saying they feel comfortable not including a special land use permit for those levels.

During the board’s August 9 discussion, senior planner Brooks Cowan presented draft language for the amendment that did not include a size limit on basement level and second floor and above businesses. Cowan said other communities that offer health clubs in comparable locations as Birmingham’s downtown haven’t included a size requirement.

Board member Daniel Share and Scott Clein both said they are comfortable without a size limit since they aren’t offering a first-floor use.

Other board members clarified if it was possible or relatively easy to lease basements and first floors separately in the downtown zone, or if it could cause an issue since the floors are connected. Nick Dupuis, planning director, and Cowan both said separately leasing the levels would work.

The board agreed unanimously, 5-0, to move forward with a public hearing on the proposed ordinance. A public hearing will be held during the Wednesday, September 13, meeting. Board members Bert Koseck, Janelle Boyce and Bryan Williams were absent from the meeting. Alternate board member Jason Emerine voted in place.


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