Most residents and downtown business owners do not want existing colleges downtown to expand or new ones to form — and the Moscow City Council appears to be on the same page.

The council unanimously directed the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday night to prepare an ordinance that would disallow new or expanded public or private colleges or universities in the Central Business Zoning District, which largely comprises downtown.

Kyle Snyder, a University of Idaho graduate student, presented survey results to Mayor Bill Lambert and the council indicating how residents and CBZD property owners feel about downtown educational institutions.

The city sent out two surveys, one to 1,200 Moscow residents and another to 276 businesses and property owners in the district, late last year. Roughly 60 percent of the respondents “strongly agreed” or “agreed” additional public and private colleges and universities should not be allowed within the CBZD.

The complete survey results can be found on the city’s website.

“This survey provides us a lot of information that we need to build action plans and further decisions with because before we were just shooting from the hip, anecdotally, about what the community wanted or what they didn’t want,” Councilor Art Bettge said. “And I think this really fills the gap effectively in the level of our knowledge relative to the perception of colleges and universities in the Central Business District.”

Community Development Director Bill Belknap said any amendment to the zoning code must first go to the Planning and Zoning Commission for review. A public hearing must then be held before the commission can provide the council with a recommendation, he said.

In other business, the City Council approved:

n Delaying the implementation of the self-funded employee health benefits program until fiscal year 2020. The rollout was expected around April 1.

n The Environmental Stewardship Award program, which is designed to recognize businesses that take steps to reduce their environmental impacts.

n A Moscow Affordable Housing Trust request for $15,000 to assist in the cost of property for an affordable housing project.

n Aug. 5 is the public hearing date for the city’s fiscal 2020 budget.

n Sojourners’ Alliance Executive Director Steve Bonnar received a certificate of appreciation award from Moscow Fair and Affordable Housing Commission Chair Randy Baukol. Bonnar told the mayor and council that Sojourners’ will soon start charging residents of the transitional housing facility rent to generate revenue and allow the transitional housing program to continue.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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