City approves new details explaining uses for multi-tenant facilities

Mebane city leaders have adopted new language that more specifically defines the uses and prohibitions for multi-tenant buildings throughout town. In the October City Council meeting, the elected board approved raising the requirement for a Special Use Permit for Multi-Tenant Buildings from 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, while also adding 25 new prohibitions for buildings determined by city staff to be Multi-Tenant Buildings or Neighborhood Shopping Centers. 

The City of Mebane has recently undertaken measures to revise its development standards to further define what a “Neighborhood Shopping Center” is, while also providing clarifying language for other elements of its commercial planning and zoning. The goal is to prevent strip malls from popping up throughout Mebane and promoting community harmony, while also managing the tremendous commercial growth that the town is currently in the midst of. 

Under the City’s guidelines, owners of properties with one than one tenant are required to get a Special Use Permit, which requires a $400 fee and a quasi-judicial hearing before the Mebane City Council. The elected board had a variety of concerns regarding multi-tenant buildings, some of which has been addressed with new language that was recently passed in the City Council’s October session.  

Under the new language, a Multi-Tenant Building or Neighborhood Shopping Center is defined as “a building or buildings owned or managed by a single party that is used for two or more occupancies, provided each occupancy is separated by construction having fire-resistive ratings in compliance with the NC Building Code, in a building or buildings containing a total floor area of 15,000 square feet or less, designed to provide for the day-to-day retail and service needs of consumers in the immediate neighborhood.” 

Although by-right zoning allows for the rezoning and development of B-2 business uses throughout Mebane, the City has now established more than 30 prohibited uses in a Multi-Tenant Building that could otherwise be approved as B-2 business uses around town. The language, which increases the square footage for the requiring of a Special Use Permit from 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, is intended to make for lower-impact uses within the Neighborhood Shopping Center category. 

The likeliest uses for such buildings will be similar to the facility that was approved during the summer by the City Council that will be constructed along Mebane Oaks Road, across from Garrett Crossing Shopping Center and the Mebane Walmart. That particular development is slated to be a showroom and office space for Signature Flooring on one side, and a Wings To Go restaurant on the other side. Other likely acceptable future uses would include the recently-opened Central Carolina Skin and Dermatology Center, which sits within the commercial development along Fieldale Road. 

Buildings classified as a Multi-Tenant Building or Neighborhood Shopping Centers in the future will not be allowed to be developed into outdoor batting cages, indoor sports and recreation clubs, commercial automobile parking, automobile leasing or renting, auto repair services, blacksmithing, car washing or auto detailing, funeral homes or crematoriums, hotels or motels, insurance agencies with onsite claims inspections, kennels with no outside runs, coin-operated laundromats, medical or dental laboratories, outdoor theaters, veterinary clinics, vocational, business, or secretarial schools, or building supply sales outlets. 

Other uses that will be prohibited for Multi-Tenant Buildings includes convenience stores with gas pumps, fuel oil sales, garden centers or retail nurseries, motor vehicle sales (new or used), recreational vehicle (RV) sales, restaurants with a drive-in or takeout window only, restaurants with drive-thru windows, service stations with gasoline sales, miniature golf courses, driving ranges, physical fitness centers or training centers, private clubs or recreational facilities, public parks or recreational facilities, taxi terminals, tire sales, beverage products, ice, jewelry and silverware fabrication, and printing and publishing, incidental to a newspaper office. 

In defining a Community Shopping Center, the City has changed the language from “a group of two or more commercial establishments” to “a group of two or more non-residential uses on a single property,” while also increasing the requirement from 10,000 to 15,000 square feet. City leaders also added the Special Use Permit requirement to Regional Shopping Centers such as Tanger Outlets, which are defined as retail shopping areas with a minimum lot size of five acres, containing at least two major commercial establishments and over 80,000 square feet of gross floor area designed as a large-scale commercial center with a clientele draw from the regional population. 

The new language also includes improved pedestrian access and improved lighting standards. 

Specifically, language has been included in the “Outdoor Lighting” section to state “Structure-mounted lighting shall be preferred to lighting mounted on monopoles. Overhead lighting shall be prohibited within an arcade,” In this instance, arcade refers to a covered, arched passageway. 

In addition, the “Pedestrian Facilities” segment has been amended to add public rights of way. The new language reads, “Sidewalks or paved pedestrian paths shall be provided from the parking lot to the entrances of the principal building(s) and all adjacent public rights of way to ensure a safe separation of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.”

All projects will continue to be reviewed by Mebane’s Technical Review Committee, regardless of the size and scope of the planned multiple occupancy grouping, for conformity with Mebane Unified Development Ordinance.