By Josephine Birdsell
The city of Columbus is beginning to rewrite the zoning code.
The Columbus Department of Development and the Department of Building and Zoning Services are leading the code rewrite project to address inequality in the code and changing zoning patterns across the city.
“While the city is doing well and certain communities are doing well, other neighborhoods are not. They’re not enjoying the same opportunities or access to growth that other areas of the city area,” said Anthony Celebreeze, assistant director of the Department of Building and Zoning Services during the Feb. 2 Greater Hilltop Area Commission meeting.
The current version of the city’s zoning code was written in the early 1950s, Celebreeze said. The city has revised the code multiple times, but it has not completely reviewed or rewritten the code within the last 70 years.
With large amounts of growth projected in the city, now is the time to revisit the code, Celebreeze said.
More than a million people are expected to live in the city of Columbus in the next 10 years. And despite the pandemic, 2020 held the second highest number of zoning applications for building and projects in the city.
Many current projects are also being carried out through coding variances, which shows that “there’s a disconnect with how our zoning code is and what the demand for development is,” Celebreeze said.
Building desires in the city are shifting toward multi-family units and increasingly walkable neighborhoods, which the code should account for, he said.
The project will take place in two phases. The first phase of the project began in early December, 2020. The Department of Development and the Department of Building and Zoning Services partnered with Lisa Wise Consulting to develop a strategy for the code rewrite. The city in the process of gathering information, thoughts and opinions from experts and community members across the city, which will then be used to develop a strategy for the second phase of the project, Celebreeze said.
During the second phase, the city will rewrite the code with feedback from community members.
“So we’ll be bringing ideas to you all about what we’re thinking, getting feedback from you all and going back and figuring out if we’re on the wrong path or if we’re on the right path,” Celebreeze said.
The first phase is projected to end in the summer. The second phase is estimated to take 18-24 months after that.