PIQUA — The city of Piqua has kicked off their CodePIQUA project to overhaul the city’s zoning and subdivision codes in addition to creating a master transportation plan.
“CodePIQUA is about looking at our zoning and subdivision regulations and our transportation plan documents to make sure that we’re responding to those things that the community told us were important in the Comprehensive Plan Update in 2007 and subsequent planning exercises,” City Planner Chris Schmiesing said during the public meeting held Tuesday evening.
The Piqua City Commission approved the project in December, authorizing 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 things that we heard very clearly was that community image and identity are things that we want to do a better job of,” Schmiesing said. “One of the recommendations out of the Comprehensive Plan was that we take a look at our zoning and subdivision regulations.”
Schmiesing, along with Lee Einsweiler and Colin Scarff of Code Studio, have held a number of stakeholder meetings this week, including Tuesday night’s kick-off meeting with the general public.
“Most of what we do is exactly this kind of project,” Einsweiler said, adding later that he has over 30 years of experience in this field. He explained that they are not starting from scratch in their update of the city’s zoning and subdivision codes, but their intent is to engage the community and implement the suggestions of the Comprehensive Plan.
Key outcomes that they hope to have in updating the zoning codes include enhancing the sense of community pride, encouraging revitalization, supporting local businesses, and improving the livability of the city.
With the kind of code that regulates mainly on use, Einsweiler said that they end up with a model of sprawling use.
“We end up with auto-dominated landscapes,” Einsweiler said. He said later that outcomes were unpredictable.
Einsweiler said that they will be working on improving the walkability and predictability of the zoning code along with incorporating mixed-use development. The new code updates will include visuals and graphics to address conversations about design for new developments.
They will also work on creating a form-based code to address the public realm, as Einsweiler discussed different ways that the forms and designs of the city and its infrastructure can influence people’s interactions with that infrastructure.
“Improving the public realm is the way to improve the walkability … and the functionality of the community,” Einsweiler said. “We manage the form of development.”
Einsweiler looked at the building placement, using the example of businesses with storefronts up to the sidewalk and how that increases interactions between the businesses and pedestrians.
Parking location is also important, Einsweiler said. Other development forms include building height, windows and doors, building use, public spaces, streets, and so on.
In regard to the transportation plan, Einsweiler said that they will be focusing on a city-wide bicycling network and truck routing. For the bicycling network, they will have to consider cycling used for commuting and for recreational purposes. For truck routing, they will look at the best route for semi-trucks to move through the city and if the current paths on state and U.S. routes are the best paths.
Code Studio is expected to change the zoning designations or at least the names of the zoning designations, as Einsweiler said that will signal to people that they are falling under new zoning regulations. Einsweiler said that they may find that they need to add new zoning districts to the zoning code as well.
“We often need new districts … We often add new vernacular,” Einsweiler said.
Code Studio will not begin drafting code updates for the city’s zoning and subdivision codes until July, which will continue to the end of the year.
Before that drafting period can take place, Code Studio will be doing reconnaissance and studying the community’s character.
Between April 16-19, Einsweiler said that Code Studio will be holding a Charrette Week, which will be a multi-day collaborative design and planning workshop. The public will be invited to participate in and hear Code Studio’s ideas for the project.
“We see and the community sees where we are in alignment,” Einsweiler said.
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