In the zone

In the zone New ordinance a sign of the times By: David Lias
Plain Talk Call it a sign of the times. Twenty years ago, which was about the time that Vermillionâ�?�?s current zoning regulations were drafted, there was no such thing as telecommnication towers to make cell phones a necessary piece of technology. Newly drafted zoning regulations being considered by the Vermillion City Council include cell towers and several other changes â�?�? 85 pages of them, to be exact â�?�? that reflect the need for the city to redefine itself. Since December of 2007, the city of Vermillionâ�?�?s planning commission has been working with SECOG (Southeast Council of Governments) and city staff to develop a revised comprehensive zoning ordinance, according to Assistant City Manager Andy Colvin. â�?�?To my knowledge, the last time that this was done was probably over 20 years ago,â�? he said. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s good for a city to do this every so many years to make sure the code stays up to date.â�? The Vermillion Area Community Foundation is considering grant applications for projects that meet its grant guidelines. Colvin, who reviewed the By David Lias Plain Talk Call it a sign of the times. Twenty years ago, which was about the time that Vermillionâ�?�?s current zoning regulations were drafted, there was no such thing as telecommnication towers to make cell phones a necessary piece of technology. Newly drafted zoning regulations being considered by the Vermillion City Council include cell towers and several other changes â�?�? 85 pages of them, to be exact â�?�? that reflect the need for the city to redefine itself. Since December of 2007, the city of Vermillionâ�?�?s planning commission has been working with SECOG (Southeast Council of Governments) and city staff to develop a revised comprehensive zoning ordinance, according to Assistant City Manager Andy Colvin. â�?�?To my knowledge, the last time that this was done was probably over 20 years ago,â�? he said. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s good for a city to do this every so many years to make sure the code stays up to date.â�? The Vermillion Area Community Foundation is considering grant applications for projects that meet its grant guidelines. Colvin, who reviewed the new zoning ordinance before the Vermillion City Council at its June 16 meeting, said it was well written and easy to understand. â�?�?It is more thorough â�?�? itâ�?�?s longer than the existing one, but itâ�?�?s for the reason that it does go into many more issues that were not addressed in the current one,â�? Colvin said. The new ordinance, which was placed on its first reading June 16, also includes new language that is a reflection of changes in state laws over the past two decades. â�?�?A lot of state laws change over time,â�? Colvin said, â�?�?and this, of course, incorporates a lot of new language to get at those changes.â�? The new zoning regulations, he said, will serve as guide to future planners of the city, he said. The city council and the city planning commission met June 5 to review several aspects of the new ordinance. A public hearing was held June 9, and the new ordinance was on file for public review. The new ordinance contains some major revisions to the current zoning regulations. â�?�?The agricultural district is no longer in this (the new) ordinance,â�? Colvin said. â�?�?It is now known as the Natural Resource Conservation district,â�? he said. â�?�?It does allow some farming and agricultural uses, but they are very limited. Thatâ�?�?s also where youâ�?�?ll find the park land.â�? As in the current zoning regulations, four residential districts will still remain should the city council approve the new ordinance next month. An R-0 district that exists in the current zoning will be eliminated in the new regulations. â�?�?R-0 is now R-1,â�? he said. â�?�?Our multiple family housing districts are R-2 and R-3.â�? The R-2 and R-3 residential districts are designed to provide for certain low to medium density residential areas in the city now developed primarily with single family, two family and multiple family dwellings. The R-4 residential district is designed to provide high density residential areas in Vermillion that are or may be developed for manufactured housing. â�?�?This is a separate and distinct housing district in this oridinance to recognize the mobile home parks that are in existence right now,â�? Colvin said. The new zoning regulation includes central business and general business districts.â�? â�?�?They really havenâ�?�?t changed too much,â�? Colvin said. â�?�?No residential uses are allowed in any business districts with this ordinance, whereas right now in our existing ordinance, for instance, you can have residential uses in business districts.â�? The new city zoning law will allow residential uses in the second floor of buildings located in business districts, meaning that upstair apartments contained in buildings in Vermillionâ�?�?s downtown will remain. The existing zoning ordinance contains two classifications for industrial use: I-0 and I-1. Those will be changed to a general industrial category in the new regulations. â�?�?It will distinguish the heavy industrial uses,â�? Colvin said. â�?�?We thought it was a little bit easier to do it that way, to include all industrial essentially except your heavier uses.â�? The new zoning regulations also include a neighborhood business district that can be adjacent to residential areas. Much of it is meant for businesses contained in offices, Colvin said. The new zoning ordinance also includes a planned development district and a host of additional regulations for a host of property use ranging from off street parking to fencing. â�?�?This is the law,â�? said Toby Brown, senior planner with SECOG. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s really that framework where we want the citizens to have a better understanding of whatâ�?�?s expected of them as far as when theyâ�?�?re utilizing their property for different uses. â�?�?When I look back at this process, I think one â�?�? itâ�?�?s a way better document that what you have now,â�? he said. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s much more user friendly, and itâ�?�?s easier to understand, and two â�?�? I think the planning commission went through an education process, and I saw with them gain an awareness of what this ordinance is all about; that itâ�?�?s trying to make the code a little bit better for the city of Vermillion and the citizens of Vermillion.â�?

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