Public to preview plans for new zoning code Tuesday night

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 | 4:56 p.m. CDT; updated 2:39 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 7, 2014

COLUMBIA — The public will have a chance Tuesday night to see tentative plans for the city's new zoning code.

Clarion Associates, the city's consultant hired to draft a new zoning code, already previewed how it will differ from the existing one during Columbia City Council's work session Monday.

Don Elliott, a land-use lawyer and a director at Clarion, said the new code will be more user friendly and easier to read than the existing code. The code is "badly organized" right now, Elliott said, and Clarion's goal is to reduce the amount of time staff spends working on zoning issues.

Clarion has partnered with Ferrell Madden, a company that specializes in form-based code. Formed-based code is zoning that takes into account the area around the land and the form of nearby buildings.

The purpose of this approach is to make sure the buildings fit in with the existing fabric of the area, Elliott said. He said this approach would protect Columbia's downtown from having short buildings next to high-rises.

A key part of the new code is a section that defines the procedure a land owner must go through for actions such as rezoning requests, site-plan reviews and certificates of occupation, according to the presentation.

Elliott said clearly defined procedures will level the playing field for developers and create clear expectations of what to expect when buying land and planning developments.

The plans also call to condense the 19 existing zoning designations down to 14.

Clarion's work is expected to be completed by winter 2015. The detailed overview given Monday was the second step of a six-step process.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the public will have a chance to weigh in on the draft plans. .

A presentation of the draft outline that council members were presented with can be viewed in the embedded document below or on the city's website.

If you cannot see the embedded document, click here to view it on Document Cloud.

Supervising editor is Edward Hart.

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