The new zoning map set to be introduced at Wednesday’s special meeting of the Marysville City Council looks similar, though not identical to the map initially proposed in November. The map would not include a much-discussed Village Residential Transitional District, but would expand the boundaries of the Suburban Residential District. (Photo submitted)
Marysville City Council is planning a special meeting with just one agenda item.
City Council will meet Wednesday to discuss proposed changes to the city planning and zoning code. The new code includes updated design guidelines and standards and updated definitions. Additionally, it moves from 22 zones to 17 districts.
At the meeting, council could vote to approve the new legislation, could vote to reject the plan, could vote to amend the plan or could vote to send it back to the planning commission. Additionally, council could vote to approve, reject or amend and have the planning commission or a recently created ad hoc committee continue to work on changes.
“I think city council just has a lot of various options to consider right now,” City Administrator Terry Emery said.
What council does not have, is much time left.
More than two years ago, city officials began the process of updating the zoning code to modernize it and bringing it into line with the comprehensive plan.
The new code was introduced to council in November. At that time, residents expressed a variety of concerns including that requirements in the historic district would be cost prohibitive for residents, that too many changes would need to go through the city’s Design Review Board, that certain uses should be conditional or permitted and that items included in certain districts would make better sense in another.
Due to public response, then mayor J.R. Rausch created an ad hoc committee of city officials, consultants and members of the public to address concerns. That committee has met several times.
City council has been working through the plan for nearly two months. Now the time has come for final action.
By city rules, council must make a final decision on the matter within 45 days of the Dec. 16 public hearing. That time line would allow council to take up the matter at its Jan. 27 meeting. However, because the legislation was the recommendation of the city’s planning and zoning commission, it requires six of the seven council members, to amend the recommendation. At least two council members have already said they will not be at the Jan. 27 meeting, meaning amending the legislation then would be impossible.
“The timeline limits our ability for flexibility,” Emery said.
City Planner Ashley Gaver said the ad hoc committee made, “good progress,”
“There has been good communication by all groups,” she said.
Gaver said that committee has addressed many of the concerns residents had.
“There is a pretty good amount of amendments (from the original proposal),” Gaver said. “There have definitely been some compromises.”
She said there have been times the committee moved in one direction, then public response pushed the committee another. Gaver said not all of the ad hoc committee’s suggestions, including a much-discussed possible transitional zone, will make it into the final recommendations presented to council.
Emery said city staff has done “a tremendous amount of work” and public input has been “awesome.
He said all of it has been respectful and everyone seems to understand, “we are all on the same team, that we need to be able to come to a consensus and create a balance for the future of our city.”
Emery said the process “has really been the way government should operate, where everyone has the opportunity to be involved and to be heard.”
“Some of the public input has been positive and some of it has questioned what we are doing, but all of it has been really good,” Emery said.
Even so, Emery said there is “still some things to work on.”
“I think they (council members) just need to look at the proposal and the changes and determine whether they feel this code needs more work or not,” Emery said.
He said not everyone will like everything about the final product, but that’s OK.
“We will continue going through the process and even after it is approved, if there are things that need changed later, we will go through that process,” Emery said.
The special council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Wednesday, in council chambers, 209 S. Main St.
The city manager said that regardless of what council decides Wednesday, it has been “an excellent process and it has been, really, a worthwhile exercise for city council to go through.”
“At the end of the day, whenever that is, at the end of all this, we will have a fantastic zoning code that sets the city up to be successful well into the future,” Emery said.
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