Oak Ridge North approves first Robinson Commercial District development agreement

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The city of Oak Ridge North approved its first development agreement for a property in the Robinson Commercial District on March 25, setting a template for future development on the short stretch of Robinson Road.

The zoning district, RC-1, was established in 2017 and includes 14 residential properties on the south side of Robinson Road. Thirteen of the sites are located between Westwood and Maplewood drives, with the 14th on the southeastern corner of Maplewood and Robinson Road. The RC-1 zone was created to give homeowners in the residential area the option for limited commercial uses of their properties as development in the city continues.

At its regular meeting March 25, City Council considered its first development agreement for a property within the RC-1 district at 27230 Robinson Road for a new office of Strickland Dental Inc. The practice, currently located along I-45 north of Robinson, had previously worked with the city to finalize its plans to buy the RC-1 property and was granted a special permit for use at that location earlier this month.

The city’s development agreement includes limits to maintain the residential characteristics of any business that may open in one of the Robinson homes while improving properties’ infrastructure including parking, lighting and drainage for commercial use. The agreement also includes signage standards to give all potential businesses on the block a similar roadside appearance.

“This is meant to be a template of what will be used to convert future RC-1 lots,” City Attorney Chris Nichols said of the agreement.

Council spent time at its session debating the sign requirements for the new dental office before approving the full development agreement. Council members discussed the merits of limiting the size, color, font and other characteristics of signs for RC-1 businesses before agreeing to remove all specifications from the development agreement except for a basic size restriction. RC-1 district projects will now be limited to signs measuring 3.5 feet tall and 6 feet long, with other aesthetic details to be determined on an individual basis with the city during development.

Council members stated further discussion on the appearance and work on the new Strickland office is likely, but the basic signage requirements and development agreement were approved first to allow the business to move forward on the project.

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