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Amendments to the city’s table of permissible uses are not only expected to streamline the permitting process but are seen as an effort to make the process more business friendly.

Approval of the amendments at last week’s city council meeting could also aid Main Street Roanoke Rapids in marketing efforts now that bars are considered permissible by right in the B-1 business district. This means business owners don’t have to go through an often lengthy conditional use permit process before the planning board and council.

“It makes us more competitive,” said Main Street Development Director Christina Caudle said in a recent interview. “It makes our job a little easier.”

Caudle said she has fielded multiple inquiries about breweries. “I believe in my district it streamlines that process. There are several buildings that could support those types of business.”

She declined to immediately elaborate on what those buildings are.

Prior to the approval of the amendments to the permissible uses, there was “a level of uncertainty with the conditional use permit process,” Caudle said. “It cuts out a lot of red tape.”

Planning and Development Director Kelly Lasky said during last week’s meeting it costs $350 to apply for a conditional use permit and the process — from applying for one, going to the planning board and city council — can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days.

Lasky told council anyone planning to open a bar or distillery in the city would still have to go through state Alcoholic Beverages Control permitting processes as well as possible federal processes in some cases. The police department would still have to do background checks on applicants. “Should it become a problem we can rely on ALE (Alcohol Law Enforcement) for enforcement,” she said in the recent interview.

Council members see the amendments as a positive step in helping the city’s growth.

“I think it gives Main Street something to work on,” Councilman Wayne Smith said. “I feel it’s a good thing to think outside the box.”

While hesitant to make bars a permissible use, Councilman Carl Ferebee did say, “I think we need to speed up the process a bit.”

Mayor Emery Doughtie said during the meeting, “We definitely need to do everything we can to add to our business community. We were one of the last cities to have liquor by the drink. I think it’s worked out pretty good. Breweries have more of an impact on younger people coming to our community. We need to speed the process up.”

The other amendments to the land use code are as follows:

Accessory apartments in the R-40; R-20 and R-12 residential districts are permissible

Short-term rentals in the B-1 and B-3 districts are permissible

Hotels and motels in the B-2 district are conditional

Elementary and secondary schools are permissible in the B-3 district

Colleges, universities and community colleges are permissible in the B-1 and B-3 districts

Storage of goods within completely enclosed structures including mini storage are permissible in the B-2 and B-3 districts

Kennels are permissible in the R-40 and B-2 districts