LEWISTON — Zoning codes don’t allow gyms or fitness centers — the kind the YMCA is proposing for Bates Mill No. 5 — in most districts, and councilors Tuesday said they might want to fix that.

“Clearly, the zoning we have does not make sense in this case,” Planning Director Gil Arsenault said.

City Planner David Hediger told councilors during Tuesday night’s workshop that staff discovered locations for fitness centers are extremely limited, according to city rules.

“This is really cleaning something up as a result of recent discussions we’ve had,” Hediger said. “It’s basically something that’s been going on since 1999.”

Fitness and recreation centers are only allowed in two districts in Lewiston. They were allowed as a conditional use in the office residential district as of 1999 to allow the YWCA of Central Maine on East Avenue.

They are allowed as a permitted use in the city’s industrial district, which includes the open areas between Lewiston’s Turnpike Exit 80 and the Androscoggin River and areas along outer Lisbon Street. That change was made in 2003 to allow Bates College to build a squash court facility.

But the Bates Mill complex is zoned mill, which allows museums, libraries, nonprofit art galleries and theaters, and athletic facilities and recreational uses that are associated with academic institutions.

“I feel that means that every gym I can think of, every fitness center in Lewiston, is not zoned correctly,” Councilor Kristin Cloutier said.

The proposed changes would allow large gyms, both nonprofit and privately owned, in several districts in addition to the mill district. They include the Community Business, Highway Business, Urban Enterprise, Office Service, Centreville and Riverfront districts.

“Essentially, the goal is to take all zoning districts where we allow indoor amusement and culture and roll fitness into that,” Arsenault said.

Councilors will take up the matter at a regular meeting.

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