There was a presentation and question/ answer period regarding the zoning rewrite. The presentation discussed the following points:
- Current zoning is out-of-date (written in the 70s)
- The goal of the rewrite is the reorganize the zoning regulations to make it easier to use and understand.
- The application and review process will be steamlined
- revises review process for planned development and supports more mixed use.
- Overall, there should be no significant changes in the city’s ACTUAL land use patterns.
As stated above, the goal is make the zoning rules more organized, easier to understand and represent what we have. It’s obvious that the zoning is out of date when you hear that 90-95% of the city could not be rebuilt under the current zoning regulations which means that many of the structures we currently have did not pass the zoning rules, but were built anyway. This suggests that the zoning rules have been way too strict and that you could get what you wanted built if you had good connections with the city.
I applaud any efforts to make it easier for people to work with the zoning rules. Hopefully, this will enable people to have more options with their property… more freedom of choice. However, I do believe there is a struggle. There is one side that does not want any growth in the city and do not want their neighborhoods to change. Then there’s another side that would like to have the freedom and flexibility to modify their properties or at least allow their neighbors that freedom.
Personally, I would like to see more relaxed zoning regulations, which may help with the housing crisis we have in the city. People who don’t want their neighborhoods to change could easily keep their neighborhoods to a certain level of development by agreeing to a certain set of rules that everyone in their community would agree to, voluntarily. These kinds of neighborhoods are called deed restricted communities and are quite common. Heavenly and I actually live in one. Farrington Mobile Home Park has a set of rules and agreement that everyone who wants to live here must sign. This is a great example of community/local control! I don’t see why a group of people on a street couldn’t enter into this kind of agreement which would be binding for all the individuals who sign and whomever purchases the properties in the future. This would have be to be better than a heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all zoning code written by the city.
This is suggestion that I would like to be explored and encouraged. I believe it would really be the best solution that would allow people to voluntarilly set rules that fit their own neighborhoods that they could have control over and direct input into.
More information on Zoning Rewrite: http://www.ci.burlington.vt.us/planning