COLUMBIA — Columbia's domestic partners, including same-sex couples, may soon achieve equality in a relatively obscure realm: the city's residential zoning ordinance.
On Thursday, Columbia's Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the city add domestic partners to the zoning ordinance's definition of family.
The zoning ordinance needs to include a definition of "family" because the city gives some homes designations that specify how many families can live there, such as a single-family or multifamily designation.
Under a strict reading of the current language, a pair of domestic partners with children could theoretically exceed a single-family residence's occupancy limit.
The change would cover residents who have registered domestic partnerships with the Columbia Department of Public Health and Human Services. The department lists seven requirements for domestic partnerships; none excludes same-sex couples from registering as partners.
Tim Teddy, community development director, said that the city has never had a problem with domestic partners tipping a residence into over-occupancy but that people in city government realized its definition of family wasn't adequate.
"We just want to be proactive," he said.
The City Council will vote on the ordinance's final language. Its next meeting is Nov. 18.