By Howard Packowitz
NORMAL – The Town of Normal’s comprehensive plan for the next two decades suggests local government rethink its parking requirements for new developments. It says current mandates force developers to provide too many parking spaces for their projects.
The 2040 report also recommends creating a local food economy, based on what it says is a “groundswell” of demand for local foods.
The report, prepared by the McLean County Regional Planning Commission and presented to the town council Monday night, said Normal should consider reducing or eliminating minimum parking requirements.
Such rules force developers to set aside space that otherwise would be used for additional residential or commercial space. It also raises land, construction, and maintenance costs which are passed along in the form of higher rents.
Developers, the report said, would be encouraged to build just enough parking to ensure the property’s success.
Less parking, the plan’s authors contend, would encourage more people to walk, ride a bike, or take public transportation.
The 2040 plan envisions a food innovation district to improve public access to healthy food. The food industry, the report said, is one of the few sectors providing good jobs without the need for a higher education.
The plan sees the need for a malting plant for various grains that grow in McLean County.
Planners also suggest the under-utilized commercial grade kitchen at the former Mitsubishi plant, now Rivian Automotive, be converted into a incubator to promote culinary start-ups in town.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at email@example.com.