A couple of years ago during a Commerce City Council planning session, one of the agenda items that came out was a desire to improve the “gateways” to Commerce. Specifically, that meant the Maysville Road and Old Homer Road corridors leading to the downtown.

If anything, those corridors look worse now than they did then. The first impression a visitor would get as he or she drove in from Interstate 85 would be that Commerce is one ugly town. The Maysville Road approach is particularly unattractive. For the best part of three miles, a motorist passes by unkempt businesses, empty buildings, an abandoned water tank and an “industrial park” that looks more like a salvage yard. There are some attractive businesses and residences, to be sure, but the overall impression one gets is of a community with little concern about its appearance. There is no quick fix to the problem. Government is limited to enforcing the applicable zoning and other regulations, and businesses would likely be “grandfathered in” from any new requirements. Still, it is nice to see the city and county governments starting to work at the issues. Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. reported at Monday night’s work session that the city and Jackson County have just started discussions about an “overlay” zoning district for both Hwy. 98 and U.S. 441, the result of which should be to create cohesion in zoning for the areas, where some property is in the city and some in the county with no clear demarcation. Hopefully, not only will the two governments reach a consensus on a zoning classification, but they will also agree to adopt policies and standards that, as businesses change and property is re-developed, would reduce the clutter and improve the appearance of the corridor over the long haul without undue expense to property owners or forcing local companies out of business.

It’ll be a long process, but as the Chinese note, “a journey of 1,000 miles must begin with a single step.” Commerce and Jackson County are takingh that initial step. The Maysville Road from I-85 into town is a good place to start.

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