The city of Fairmont is exploring whether to allow general business uses in light industrial zones, through conditional use permits granted by the city. So, a business like an auto dealership or convenience store could open near the industrial park. The city views this as a way to offer more flexibility and a way to encourage more commerce.
We believe what the city is considering makes sense. In fact, it's a little surprising that the formula under consideration is not implemented more often. That is, why not allow less onerous uses in places set aside for more onerous ones, such as heavy industry? If prospective developers know the zoning ahead of time, they can't be surprised by it. Someone probably wouldn't want to build a home next to the industrial park, but if they did, so what?
Obviously, the purpose of zoning is to make sure there is land set aside for different uses, so that development is orderly and so that uses do not come into conflict. You don't want someone putting up an ethanol plant next to the elementary school. You don't want a munitions factory opening in a quiet residential area. Likewise, it does make sense to forbid housing from going up next to potentially hazardous sites. But a car dealership or convenience store next to light manufacturing really shouldn't be harmful to either, or to the community at large. In fact, the opposite is true.