FORT BRAGG, 1/8/21 — On Jan. 6, the Fort Bragg Planning Commission held another special Zoom meeting to continue its work on the next draft of an ordinance establishing regulations for formula business applications and use permits. This ordinance would apply to the Fort Bragg’s Central Business District (CBD) that is not included in the coastal zone or the city’s historic downtown. Fort Bragg city staffers and the planning commissioners have been working on this process since last year. Back in February 2019, the Fort Bragg City Council back in Feb. 2019 directed the city staff to collect input and feedback from the Planning Commission and the public on the drafting of the ordinance.
Two planning commissioners who termed out in Dec. 2020 were reappointed by the Fort Bragg City Council at a special council meeting on Dec. 22, 2020. Nancy Rogers and Jay Andreis will serve additional two-year terms. The commissioners agreed that Jeremy Logan would continue serving as chair and Andreis as vice chair.
Pursuant to direction from the city council, the commission is on track to introduce the draft formula business ordinance to the council on February 22. At that time it will also be available for public review. On March 8, the council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance. The public has been encouraged to provide formal comments and input at each step along the way.
Working out details
At Wednesday’s meeting, the commissioners considered how to define a formula business, with the aim that the ordinance would hold up to legal scrutiny. The commissioners agreed that the definition of formula businesses should be broadened to include commercial businesses so as to include other categories of businesses besides retail.
The commissioners agreed on Wednesday night to define “Formula Business” to mean, “A commercial retail establishment that has ten or more other business locations outside of Fort Bragg, regardless of ownership or location at the time that the application is deemed complete, and has at least two of the following standardized features throughout their locations—an array of merchandise/menu, Decor, Uniforms, Façade, Color scheme, Signage, Trademark, or Service mark.”
Commissioner Stan Miklose questioned the meaning of the term service mark. Fort Bragg City Manager Tabatha Miller gave the example of FedEx as a service mark explaining, “as in a business that provides a service,” as opposed to a recognizable trademark name identified with a product.
The commissioners also debated the proposed ordinance’s formula business use permit aspects including prohibited types of formula businesses, elements that would limit the size of the project, and details of design elements requirements. The ordinance, as stands, would also require the applicant to prove to the City of Fort Bragg that the proposed application did not meet the definition of a formula business (if the city determined that an application was subject to the ordinance) rather than the city taking on that burden of proof.
The commission is now awaiting review of the draft ordinance text by the Fort Bragg City Attorney. Once that feedback is provided, the commission plans to meet next week to discuss further.
The date for next week’s commission meeting, not yet set, will be posted at the city’s website https://city.fortbragg.com/. The meeting can be accessed by Zoom or via phone.
Public comment regarding matters on the commission’s agenda may be made in the following ways (1) By joining the Zoom video conference, (2) Through the City’s online eComment agenda feature, (3) Emailed to Joanna Gonzalez, firstname.lastname@example.org, (4) Written comments delivered through the drop-box for utility payments to the right of the front door at City Hall, 416 N. Franklin Street, or (5) Voice mail comments to (707) 961-2827 ext 111 by 5pm on the day of the meeting. Details on how to join the Zoom meeting or listen by phone are available on each Planning Commission agenda, posted on the City’s website.
The Central Business District section is colored in blue. Boundaries are general and illustrate the policies of the Fort Bragg City General Plan. Refer to the Community Development Department for updated parcel boundary maps.