|Community residents at ReZone Open House, |
New Bo City Market, October 2017
ReZone Cedar Rapids grew out of the city's comprehensive plan adopted in 2015. Form-based zoning is being applied first in the downtown area, as well as four nearby areas that had previously been designated as zoning overlay districts allowing for relaxation of existing zoning rules: Czech Village/New Bohemia, Ellis Boulevard on the Northwest Side, MedQuarter and Kingston Village. The intent is to follow through where there has been ongoing focused planning efforts; these areas can then serve as models for other areas where occupants may seek focused planning in the future (such as the College District).
|Citizen suggestions at the open house for future form-based zones included|
Mound View/College District (center right cluster)
and along the Highway 100 extension (far left)
Gunnerson and Russett explained that form-based zoning centers on the form and size of buildings rather than separating uses (residential, commercial and industrial being the three main traditional categories). The code also describes street networks and multiple access, neighborhood character and the relationship of buildings to streets.
|Dot stickers indicated citizen support|
...or green space, and describe pedestrian scale infrastructure like lighting...
...although any form including large-lot suburban subdivisions can be part of the code.
The reasons to change the zoning code, besides encouraging more traditional walkable development, is to allow more options for neighborhoods beyond single use, update zoning that is often decades old and not descriptive of certain areas, and simplifying the process of approving or disapproving developments.
The first draft of the code is due this winter; the revised draft following public feedback will be presented to the City Council in summer 2018. The new codes may take effect immediately or be phased in over a number of months.
My guess is the average Cedar Rapids citizen will not notice much impact from this zoning change. In the targeted districts certain types of building will be restricted, but other types can be expedited. Over the long term we can hope for better economic development in those economically-important districts, and aroused public interest in attempting form-based zoning in other parts of the city. I'm more hopeful about the first than about the second.
CORRECTION: The discussion of property along the Highway 100 extension has been amended to clarify the probable sequence of annexation and development i.e. previous false information has been replaced by true information.
MORE! MORE! MORE!
City's promotional "trailer":
"What is a 'Form-Based Code' and Other Mysteries of Zoning," 7 March 2016
"Envision CR Open House," 26 March 2014