Proposed Schedule For Zoning Code Overhaul Hearings
The City Council will hear a proposal from City Staff that would lay the groundwork for a series of hearings to consider adoption of a new Unified Development Code (or Zoning Code) for the city. The proposal suggests that the process could be completed with a series of 8 total meetings that could begin as early as April 30 and end with final Council action on September 22 2016.
According to the staff report, an initial 4-hour public information meeting with City Staff would occur on April 30. That would be followed by a May 4 overview hearing in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission, with an additional three P&Z hearings to be conducted at regular sessions throughout May and June. Final P&Z action would occur on August 4 if the process stays on track, and could result in an amended or modified zoning code proposal going forward to the full City Council for first reading on September 8. Final action by the Council would then be predicted to occur on September 22, unless, of course, the process is delayed during earlier rounds of consideration or the Council decides to hold multiple hearings on the complex matter, such as is being proposed for the Planning and Zoning consideration process.
According to the staff report, the new code incorporates more than 1,000 individual changes to the existing code, some of which are simple ministerial changes, and some of which may have significant impact on property use and development patterns in the city.
The new code has three distinct functional parts, often referred to as “modules”). They deal with Zoning Districts and Permitted Uses; Form and Development Controls; and Procedures and Enforcement. That’s why Planning and Zoning proposes to hold one overview meeting, then consider each of these modules individually at three successive, two-hour meetings. They would finish consideration with one, final public hearing at which time a version of the code would be approved for recommendation by the full council.
According to the staff report, citizens would be free to speak about any topic during any of the meetings, however, time limits would apply to each speaker; no overt question and answer or interaction between staff, commissioners and the community would occur; and the overall time constraint of that part of the P&Z meeting would be limited to approximately 2 hours. This proposal has been suggested out of convenience to the P&Z Commissioners since they will also be considering other business at each meeting.
City Council could adopt a similar approach to hearings, with multiple chances for citizen input, although the staff report does NOT suggest that at this time. None of these procedures has yet been approved by either body and both bodies have the right to change or amend the schedule at any time as the process unfolds. For instance, if one part of the new code proves to be particularly contentious, P&Z could call for an additional hearing on that portion; could table the measure for later consideration; or could call for a special hearing to consider additional code testing results from the Downtown Columbia CID or other neighborhood groups.
The report and recommendations about this schedule of proposed hearings will be presented as the second to last individual item on the Monday, April 4 City Council agenda, and is not subject to a public hearing, although individuals who wish to address this proposed schedule may do so in writing prior the council meeting or, alternatively, may speak to this issue during the Public Comment period at the end of the meeting after the council has considered the report.
A copy of the staff report regarding this proposed hearing schedule is available HERE: http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Council/Commissions/downloadfile.php?id=21073