- Text and maps were
adopted in 2002.
The five-year effort culminated in adoption of new text and
maps by the City Council on Oct. 1, 2002. Most changes were in residential
districts, and consisted of down zoning neighborhoods for less intense
development. Numerous multi-family districts were down zoned to single- or
two-family districts. A parking district was made obsolete, as it was already
allowed for in commercial areas.
- The rewrite process started in the Planning
Commission, was assessed by the Zoning Neighborhood and Development Committee
and Common Council, and finally signed by the mayor.
- The public process was limited.
- The City sent letters
regarding zoning changes to affected property owners.
The goal of the rewrite was to simplify and reorganize the
old code. The rewrite process went from the Planning Commission to the Zoning
Neighborhood and Development Committee to the Common Council and was signed into
law by the mayor. The public process was limited. An announcement of the adopted
zoning change was published and the City appointed a staff manager to meet with
aldermen regarding their concerns about the new text and mapping of their
neighborhoods. According to City staff, there was little interest from the
public in the zoning change.
Letters were sent to business associations to announce
upcoming public meetings about zoning, and most meetings were televised. The
City held meetings with aldermen to ensure that the process went smoothly and
The boundaries of the zoning districts were basically
preserved and implementation mainly involved assigning new letter designations.
The Planning Commission sent letters informing property owners of zoning changes
to their properties. Aldermen, along with many neighborhood groups, were given
in-depth explanations of how the new text and mapping would effect their
Special Provisions and Innovations
- A park district was added to the code to protect
existing parks threatened by development projects.
- A downtown overlay district was created with design
mixed-use industrial district was added to convert industrial buildings to
Two commercial districts were created, one to reflect urban
environments, the other to reflect areas with suburban characteristics. A park
district was also created to protect existing parks that were in danger of
development because they were located in residential or commercial zones.
Additionally, a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District was created to
protect neighborhood character.
A new mixed-use district will be created in a section of the
downtown. This area previously housed a highway spur that is now being removed.
The resulting streets will be returned to a grid pattern. The mixed-use district
is already provided for in the new text and will not be part of the downtown
rezoning process. The downtown area
will most likely
an overlay district consisting of urban design standards like
building setbacks and entrances facing the sidewalk.
In response to the high demand for conversion of older
industrial buildings, a new mixed- industrial district was created for the
conversion of industrial buildings into residential lofts or offices.
After all of the rewrite and mapping was completed, a
computerized zoning ordinance was put on the city’s Web site. It includes
answers to frequently asked questions regarding the new code and showed the new
zoning codes for specific properties.
- Aldermen were kept
informed and up-to-date so the City could avoid challenges along the way.
Politicians played a major role in the remapping process.
Developers and other private citizens had no real objections to the text
portion, though challenges were anticipated for the remapping. Aldermen were
kept informed to avoid any political difficulties. Overall, there was no
- The City established
a three-month interim period during which developers could choose between the
old and new code.
A three-month interim period was established prior to the new
ordinance taking effect, and developers were given the option of choosing the
new or old ordinances.
- Lack of a comprehensive plan was problematic during
the zoning text rewrite.
- Hired consultants helped put the zoning changes on
- City staff felt more
public input may have been useful throughout the process.
Because the city has no comprehensive plan, there was a lack
of context for the new zoning text. Comprehensive plans, mainly neighborhood
plans, only exist for about 20 percent of the city.
City staff believed the consultants had a limited impact.
They were brought in early in the process and this resulted in conflicts.
City staff and the consultants had
difficulty compromising and reaching consensus.
In addition, City staff were not always
fully aware of what was happening. Overall, the consultants were most helpful in
putting the zoning text and mapping changes on computer. City staff believed
more public input would have been helpful throughout the process.
Lay of the Land 2003: A National Survey of Zoning