Clarksville Working to End Parking Requirements in Commercial and Industrial Zones

Clarksville Working to End Parking Requirements in Commercial and Industrial Zones

CLARKSVILLE, IN (December 13, 2023) –Clarksville’s Planning and Zoning Department is leading the charge to change parking requirements across the town.  Planning Director Neal Turpin says parking requirements are common in zoning ordinances across the country but are notoriously based on very little real data.

“The same is true in Clarksville,” says Turpin. “Our parking ordinance, Division 195, is currently 16 pages long and based on old standards which were themselves never very accurate.”

Neal Turpin
Neal Turpin
Planning Director

Turpin says his office and several local developers are aware of the issues with the ordinance, and that trying to provide the required number of spaces is often difficult.  In a recent report to the Clarksville Planning Commission, Turpin listed several examples.

• The past eight multi-family developments in Clarksville have all requested parking below the required levels.
• A recent medical facility requested and received a variance to reduce required parking from 245 spaces to 100.
• Home Depot sold a portion of its parking lot in 2017 so developers could build a Discount Tires store. That store also requested a reduction in parking requirements.
• Chick-fil-a decided to remove some outdoor seating to bring its new lot design into compliance. Otherwise, it would have required a variance.

Turpin says another reason to remove the requirements is because the way people shop has changed.  The number of drive-thru options, online shopping, and curbside pick-up locations have changed how existing lots are used. While the spaces may be there, they are dedicated to other uses beyond parking for customers coming into the store.  Town staff even went out on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, Black Friday, to provide some examples.  Several photos taken that morning show hundreds of empty parking spots across Clarksville’s commercial areas.

Graphic showing parking lots in Clarksville's commercial district.
Graphic showing parking lots in Clarksville’s commercial district.

Due to these factors, town staff are proposing to revise Division 195 to remove required parking minimums from business and industrial zones in Clarksville. The change would not affect residential zones.  Turpin says more businesses could locate within Clarksville if the parking requirements were removed, allowing those businesses to fill those already existing empty parking lots.

“As has been covered in numerous other settings, we do not have much room to expand outward,” said Turpin.  “Requiring so much land to be parking lots greatly restricts what growth can occur. Parking lots do not provide jobs, businesses do.”

A second major benefit is that of decreasing regulation. Turpin says it is clear that many businesses do not want or need as much parking as the town currently requires, forcing them to seek variances, which adds time and cost to projects. The proposed changes also keep most of the regulations on form, which means businesses would still have to provide ADA accessible spaces and ensure proper fire access.

The new zoning rules were approved by the Clarksville Planning Commission with a vote of 7-0.  It now heads to the Clarksville Town Council on Tuesday, December 19th, for final approval.