Council to Update Economic Development Zoning Ordinance

On Thursday, May 11, 2017 Council approved the first reading of legislation to amend the zoning ordinance for Economic Development zones in the Expansion Area.  The ordinance that will be updated is Article 23A-10, which you can read here.  As a reminder, legislation must receive two readings at Council Meetings before becoming law.  The second reading of the amending ordinance is scheduled for the upcoming Council Meeting, which will be on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 6 pm.  For those who have followed this issue, an earlier version of the ordinance received a first reading on September 29, 2016.  The ordinance has received substantive changes since then, which is why a new first reading was necessary.

The overarching intent of the zoning ordinance text amendment (ZOTA) is to help the Economic Development zones better fulfill their purpose, which is to foster contextually appropriate development that creates high paying jobs.  The revisions make an increasingly popular form of development—mixed used—easier to do.  Mixed used developments, for example, often combine residential units, cultural amenities, and businesses in a manner that lets individuals live where they work with nearby restaurants.  To get additional background on the reasons for advancing the ZOTA, please see this video of the December 1, 2016 Council Workshop.

Much of the deliberation before the Planning Commission and then the Council has focused on a new category of zoning uses known as supportive uses.  Planning policy wonks might be familiar with principal and conditional uses in zoning parlance.  A principal use in a zone is a use that is allowed “by right.”   Conditional uses, in contrast, are more case-specific uses that require approval from the Board of Adjustment.  Supportive uses are principal uses, but they have restrictions on their proportions in the development.  For reference, the supportive uses in the ZOTA are below:

  1. Supportive uses shall not exceed a maximum of eighteen percent (18%) of the otherwise permitted floor area within a development, as identified on the associated final development plan. Mixed Use buildings shall count toward the maximum permitted floor area of supportive uses herein, but not count toward the residential use maximum identified below in Article 23A-10(j)12b. Structures dedicated solely to residential use shall not count toward the supportive use maximum because they will be limited by Article 23A-10(j)12b and d.
  2. Residential land uses shall not exceed eight and one-half percent (8.5%) of the gross land area within a development, as identified on the associated final development plan.
  3. A maximum of twenty percent (20%) of all supportive uses may be constructed prior to construction of other principal permitted uses listed in Article 23A-10(b). The allowable floor area for supportive uses shall be calculated based upon the total number of gross acres within the boundary of the final development plan and the permitted maximum Floor Area Ratio established in Article 23A-10(g).
  4. The maximum density for townhouses (3 or more units attached) shall be 12 dwelling units per gross acre, not to exceed 360 total townhouses. The maximum density of multi-family dwellings shall be 24 dwelling units per gross acre, not to exceed 360 total multi-family dwellings.

I would like to thank the various stakeholders in the community, the private sector, and LFUCG who have helped craft an ordinance that helps amend our zoning regulations to support development for high paying jobs in the existing Expansion Area land.  I appreciate the careful concern to safeguarding against unintended consequences and look forward to voting in favor of the ordinance next week.

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