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Thread: How small-area plan rezoning affects comp plan and zoning map

  1. #1
    Oct 2007
    Way out there

    How small-area plan rezoning affects comp plan and zoning map

    We've been working with the community on a collaborative long-range, small-area plan for a specific group of neighborhoods. We've looked at this as one small step in a gradual and long move from Euclidean zoning to a transect-ish model. (We fully recognize it will take a very long time to do this throughout the town.)

    We will present the plan for approval by the City Council next month. At that time, we'll ask that the plan replace the corresponding portion of the town's Comprehensive Plan. We've done that with other small-area plans before, and the process has been relatively smooth.

    Here's the issue --

    We're looking at a new zoning category. For now, let's call it SP for 'specific plan'. The idea is that the SP would become the base zone for the affected area; it would not be an overlay. (In short, SP is almost like a City-initiated PUD.) So, when John or Mary or whomever goes online to look at the zoning map and sees SP on his/her property, he/she will be directed to refer to the specific plan that governs that particular area. We're concerned, though, that--in the long run--the Comp Plan and Zoning Map will end up looking alike.

    Here are my questions --

    Is that something to be concerned about? Has your municipality/county tried anything like the SP zone (by whatever name)? If so, are you satisfied with the outcome? How does your Zoning Map compare now to your Comp Plan map?


  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Feb 1998
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Don't sweat it, there is no such thing as being overly consistent. We created special districts in one town for our hospital and community college areas. Not the same concept as yours, but the boundaries in the plan and zoning map were precisely the same.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
    Aug 1997
    Clowns to the left, jokers to the right
    I don't know the details of your proposed SP zoning district, but one question does come to my mind. Does the district provide specific requirements for permitted uses and development standards? I'm thinking about those people financing or refinancing a property and the lender wants to know 1) is the house (or other current or proposed use) permitted by right and 2) does it (or will it) conform to current standards (or could it be rebuilt to current conditions if damaged or destroyed). In my experience, they often want simple Yes or No answer to these questions. A designation of "SP Specific Plan" zoning might raise their eyebrows. If you have to read lots of text in the Specific Plan to answer those questions, it might trip up non-planners trying to understand the applicable land use regulations.

    Just a thought.
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  4. #4
    Oct 2007
    Way out there
    Mike --

    Thanks for sharing that experience. It does appear similar to our situation. For whatever reason, I've been (perhaps overly) concerned with overlap between the Comp Plan map and Zoning map. I can see them becoming one and the same years from now.

    Joe --

    Thanks for raising that issue. The small-area plan for this set of neighborhoods covers design, land use, transportation, etc. Because the neighborhoods are somewhat historic in nature, we want to see more of what's there already, and that's what the plan is designed to encourage/require. In fact, the area currently is part of a historic overlay. Thus, the only structures in the area that would not conform to the standards of the new zone are structures that are already non-conforming with regard to the overlay.

    (In case you're wondering why we're creating a new zone if we already have the overlay -- The overlay was something of a stop-gap measure instituted a few years ago. The overlay district was adequate for that, but not for long-term planning.)

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