Monday, October 10, 2016

Proposed Zoning Code Change: Innovations

The Planning and Zoning Commission is considering a complete re-write of the City's zoning code and zoning map, the first such sweeping revision in at least 50 years. 

The Commission is holding extensive public hearings on the proposed changes, in order to receive as much input from the public as possible.  There will be a public hearing at the next meeting, on October 12th (7PM, Council Chambers).

Below is the Planning Department's staff comments on new ideas to incorporate into the zoning code. More is available through the Planning Department web site:

Further staff comments.
Proposed new zoning code
Proposed new zoning map.
Innovative practices.
The City of Middletown does many things well, but it could do much better in attracting the types of new development and redevelopment that it wants to see. The Commission should in making a more user-friendly zoning code look at possible innovative practices to adopt.

The following are some ideas for consideration:

Form-based Code- The current zoning code is a hybrid of use base zoning and form based zoning. More can be done to regulate form in all zones. All zone [sic] should have minimum standards for the following form based components:

  • Site Layout
  • Building Fa├žade and Standards
  • Building Dimension Standards
  • Site Design Standards
  • Parking and Driveway Area Standards
  • Loading and Refuse Storage Area Standards
  • Lighting Standards
  • Signage Standards
  • Open Space Set-Aside Standards

The Commission should be cautious though. Building form and design standards that are far more detailed than they need to be can discourage development and work against the goals for a particular area.

Parking Flexibility- Parking is a key component to development, but parking as resource is more complex than our parking minimums currently in the zoning code. We should go through each zone and determine if parking is a public good, primarily provide with on-street parking and municipal lots or a private good, primarily provided with privately owned off-street parking on private property. Parking standards should not be one dimensional. Parking minimums, parking maximums and parking reductions should be considered in an code revision.

Bicycle Parking Standards- We have a bicycle rack requirement in the B-2 zone. More comprehensive requirements for different zones should be considered.

Fast track approvals- The Commission should consider a policy, where there is guaranteed expedited review period, provided that the development is certified by Staff that the proposal meets or exceed our guidelines for an area. The Commission would still have the power to approve or deny an application.

The Commission should be cautious in adopting any new innovation. The question of whether or not to adopt a new regulation is does to solve a real problem. Do we know the scope of the problem and is this new innovation the right tool. There are many good ideas but Middletown’s problems will need Middletown solutions.


Anonymous said...

Why is there not a key to the different colors next to the zone map?

Stephen Devoto said...

The Planning Department has posted the draft map, with a key to the zones on the lower left:

Anonymous said...

Each color is indeed labeled by a letter and/or number. It would be useful if the meaning of these symbols were placed next to the map. It would then not be necessary to search the body of the document to make sense of the map.

Mr. Fixit said...

Seems to me that good zoning avoids "Spot Zoning". This map looks pretty darn spotty to me. Are nearly 30 categories really necessary, along with hundreds of 'spots'?