New code may ease permitting process

City officials say they are hopeful the proposed development code will improve the city’s development process.

The new code, they said, is meant to allow for more creative designs of neighborhoods and an easier-to-understand and more predictable development and permitting process. Here’s a look at some of the issues the code would address:

  • Affordable housing: The code would create two new residential zoning categories that would allow for significantly smaller building lots than currently allowed. The code would allow single-family lots to be as small as 3,000 square feet, compared with the current 7,000-square-foot minimum. That would allow the number of homes per acre to double. Planners and developers are hoping that will help housing prices by making the price of land a smaller part of a home’s overall cost.
  • Compatibility: The proposal calls for larger setback areas and more landscaping to buffer residential developments from nonresidential uses, such as shopping centers or industrial areas.
  • Notification: The new code will require developers to provide written notification to neighborhood associations when a rezoning is proposed for their neighborhood. Currently, only residents within 200 feet of the proposed rezoning are required to be notified.
  • Home occupations: Currently, city ordinances do not allow any home occupation that employs a person who doesn’t live at the home. The new code would allow for some home occupations that employ one person who does not live at the home.
  • Streamlining: The code would give planning staff members more authority administratively to approve parts of projects rather than making them go through the City Commission or Planning Commission. The largest change would be that site plans — which show the size and location of buildings, roads, parking lots and other similar details — would be approved by planning staff members. Currently, city commissioners approve site plans.