EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is following-up on the Tuesday, Dec. 19, Piqua City Commission meeting in regard to items voted on after press time Tuesday evening.
PIQUA — The Piqua City Commission approved an overhaul of the city’s land use codes by a vote of four to one during their meeting Tuesday evening.
Commissioner Bill Vogt voted against the resolution awarding the project contract to Code Studio, but Vogt did not speak up prior to the vote to suggest why he voted no.
The commission approved a contract with Code Studio not to exceed $150,000 for Code Studio to update the land use and development codes and create a thoroughfare plan within the city. The updates will reflect the recommendations included in the city’s 2007 Comprehensive Plan Update.
“One of the findings of that study, along with subsequent studies that have been completed since then, is that there is a strong desire within the community to do those things necessary to improve and enhance the image of the community,” City Planner Chris Schmiesing said. “As a result of that finding, one of the comprehensive plan recommendations, along with several other strategies, focused on the need to update the zoning and subdivision codes, generally speaking, the entire land use section.”
Schmiesing added that the Planning Commission has come across a “number of deficiencies” in the code that the project will address.
“We would be looking at what you might describe as more modern tools for land use and development activities, often times you’ll hear those referred to as form based codes or smart codes,” Schmiesing said.
Schmiesing said that updates will put the emphasis on the build product and shifting the focus away from use activity.
“That is, instead of placing emphasis on how the improvements are used, it focuses on how the improvements will contribute plausibly to enhancing and sustaining the natural environment, the built environment, strengthening the relationship of the built product and the private realm to public realm improvements,” Schmiesing said. “And also how it can contribute to creating a strong sense of place and authenticity in your community.”
The last time there was a comprehensive review of land use codes was in 1996. The staff report refers to the 1996 review as focusing on “the most basic content necessary” and leaving the code “devoid of standards important to prompting development outcomes that reflect community values.”
Commissioner Judy Terry asked if this project would help create covenants for older neighborhoods.
Schmiesing said that the current land use code is a “one size fits all” code, whereas this project will provide context zones for neighborhoods and other areas as a way to protect the character of those older neighborhoods.
Schmiesing added that newer standards will be more responsive and more intuitive to the area.
“It really will eliminate lack of clarity,” Schmiesing said.
Commissioner Joe Wilson expressed concern about the different zoning designations and if those will stay the same.
“You’ll still have a regulating plan,” Schmiesing said. He added that if there is something that does not make sense, then they will not do it.
Code Studio was selected to complete this project for their qualifications and their work on similar projects, according to Schmiesing. The project was not bid out, but rather six firms responded to the city’s request for proposals. All six firms suggested contract fees similar to the budgeted amount of $150,000 for this project.
Also during their meeting, the commission approved appropriations for the city for 2017 and 2018 along with a number of annual resolutions. The commission also approved giving salaried employees a 2 percent wage increase.
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