Councilmember Miller has organized a “Zoning 101” presentation to better educate the public about the zoning process, timelines and decision that affect land usage in Columbus.
What is Zoning?
Columbus City Charter empowers City Council to establish land use policy within the city through the zoning process. Zoning laws determine the type of activity which may occur within specific geographic areas within the city. By extension, zoning laws help determine the type of structure which can be built on a given site. While there are subcategories, land use can be grouped under three general categories: residential, commercial and industrial more examples can be found at http://ordlink.com/codes/columbus/, under Title 33 Zoning Code.
Questions of zoning generally come before City Council for two reasons:
A property owner wishes to use their property for a different purpose than currently is permissible. For example, an owner wants to convert a residential structure to a commercial one.
The City wishes to actively influence what type of development occurs in a particular geographic area. For example, the City may want to promote commercial development on an abandoned industrial site to create new jobs for the citizens. Or, public policy considerations may cause the City to want to restrict certain activity deemed inappropriate for an area. For example, councils across the nation have actively restricted the expansion of adult entertainment.
The zoning process involves several steps designed to assure appropriate review and oversight in accordance to existing zoning laws, public policy, and community standards. At the same time it is intended to protect individual property rights. First, a property owner (applicant) must apply for a change of use with the Development Department. To assure neighborhood review, City Code next requires an applicant to submit a request to the neighborhood Area Commission if one exists. Applicants must confirm whether the subject site lies within the boundaries of an Area Commission, Historic Architectural Review Commission, or recognized civic association. This information can be found by going towww.cityofcolumbus.org, selecting Department of Development, Neighborhoods and Residents, then click on Area Commission. This information is also available by calling the appropriate Neighborhood Liaison for the area where the site in question is located. These bodies are also a creature of City Code and provide area residents most affected by a change of property use within the neighborhood to voice their concerns and opinions.
The applicant next submits a request to the City's Development Department for staff review. Here, staff examines the merits of the proposal, checking for compliance with City policy. For example, if the proposal is for a new business, is adequate parking provided; are proper street setbacks included in building plans; is the business appropriately distanced from the nearest residential area. Next, the application is heard before the Development Commission, a seven-member body created by the City that serves as an advisory body to the Director, and the City Council in matters related to the preparation, execution and administration of urban renewal development, rehabilitation and conservation plans.
At any point in the process, review may necessitate an applicant adjust their proposal. All or none of these review bodies may approve of the applicant's request. It is the policy of Columbus City Council to encourage cooperative resolution of disputes, and to solicit neighborhood approval. In any case, a request may eventually come before City Council in the form of legislation.
The attached document lists zoning requests that have not received immediate approval by City Council. In most instances where unanimous approval does exists, i.e., the Development Commission, the Neighborhood Area Commission, and Development department staff have all agreed, Council agrees. It approves the change in zoning and the issue does not reach the Zoning Rejection Docket.
If Council does place an item on the Zoning Rejection Docket, it typically means Council believes there are unresolved issues. Council instructs the parties to "go back to the drawing board" and come to an acceptable compromise. If successful, such items generally are removed from the Docket and approved at a later date. The current disposition of each item on the Docket can be seen in the rightmost column of the attachment.
Archived Zoning Rejection Docket