By Hannah Poling
Zoning was the topic of discussion at the October Westland Area Commission meeting.
Kevin Wheeler, assistant director for growth policy with the city of Columbus, attended the meeting to discuss the future of zoning. He said the Columbus zoning code has not been updated since the 1950s and city officials are looking at an overhaul of the zoning code.
“Zoning can be a barrier to seeing what the community wants and investing in our community. Or it can set the standards,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said that the city has updated the code in bits and pieces over the years but they have never taken a look at the code to make sure that it makes sense with the ever-changing evolving and growing city.
“If the city is going to continue growing, then we need to figure out how to manage that,” Wheeler said.
According to Wheeler, the city code does not provide for future housing needs and it does not support transit. In addition, the code is not user-friendly and there is an overreliance on site-to-site negotiation.
“No zoning code is really user friendly but ours is very unfriendly. In the end, you have to be almost an expert to understand. That leaves neighborhoods and communities behind in the conversation,” he said.
The city is planning to work on addressing the code in phases – starting with a mixed-use corridor.
According to Wheeler, the city is going to do its first round of work looking at these mixed-use transits to see how they can update the zoning code and map to allow for more development while being consistent with what the community is trying to achieve. He hopes to start formulating a plan throughout 2023 as they shape what this will look like. They are hoping to have something to present to city council by 2024.
Wheeler plans to come back before the commission to keep the community updated on the progress.