A zoning change could allow property directly south of Dickinson State University to be used for retail space.

The City of Dickinson is considering an overlay zoning district that would allow limited retail and office uses across a five block area, from 12th Avenue to Seventh Avenue, between First Street and Second Street.

"Back in 2017, when the city was looking at expanding its Renaissance Zone, one of the things that came up in the discussion was adding this area," Steve Josephson, Stark County planner, said.

A similar district exists in downtown Dickinson.

Single family structures downtown can be converted into commercial buildings for offices, civic spaces, personal services, restaurants, consumer services, limited retail, pet services, business support services or accessory dwelling units.

The area around the DSU campus is currently zoned as high-density residential, which allows for community facilities such as child care centers.

It has been developed with single-family residences and apartment buildings.

"Those property owners who are probably renting it out right now, they'll probably think it's a good thing," Walter Hadley, city planning director, said. "We might have a couple of residents who may not be excited about a coffee shop there."

If property owners took advantage of the zoning change, it could benefit DSU faculty and staff, Josephson said.

"It's bringing back an old concept, before we had tons of automobiles, of being able to walk to a place and not necessarily drive to a place to get things you need," he said. "If it works out, it could encourage walkability."

It would also allow the city to better connect DSU to downtown Dickinson.

"It's a natural transition that we need to tie the downtown to DSU," Hadley said. "There's many stages in this and this is the first little part of it."

Property owners would only have the option to redevelop into retail space. It would not be required, Hadley said.

"All those owners don't have to take advantage of this," he said. "It's kind of a win-win where you have these things you can do. Now you're going to have these things you can do on top of it, but you don't have to."

Tenants could be impacted, though, if property owners chose to redevelop.

"That's going to be the decision of the landlord, as to whether they're happy, if they want to continue renting out properties or take a chance on a commercial development," Josephson said.

The city hopes to present a draft of the ordinance to the planning and zoning commission in February, hold public hearings in March and possibly adopt the ordinance in April.

A public meeting will be held Thursday, Jan. 10, from 6 to 8 p.m., at Beck Auditorium in DSU's Klinefelter Hall, 223 Campus Drive, to receive concerns and comments from the public.