City zeroing in on new zoning ordinance
City zoning has a bad rep as a dry topic, but the City of New Richmond is hoping that will change as it presents a draft of its new zoning ordinance to various clubs and civic groups in town.
The transformation of the city’s zoning ordinance is reaching the final steps in a process that began in January. The process has since seen the hiring of a consulting agency, seven subcommittee meetings, one public open house, and a developer and key stakeholder forum.
Now that the final draft ordinance and master plans are ready, the city staff is leading a community outreach effort to explain the changes to the public and collect input.
“We are going to try to frame it in the goals that were presented from the beginning, which are trying to make it easier to read and use, trying to tailor it toward the City of New Richmond and not other communities,” said Community Development Director Beth Thompson.
City building inspector Sarah Skinner said the change will be welcomed because the city’s current ordinance is a “hodgepodge all over the place, and you need to know where to look” to find specific information needed.
“We’re hoping to put information in more of a one-stop shop format,” Skinner said.
Not only is the city hoping the new ordinance will be easier to use for developers and residents alike, but it also worked to make it a more visually appealing document.
Landform, a multi-disciplinary consulting firm, worked with city staff to develop the ordinance, and a lot of changes will be noticed immediately upon an initial glance.
“It’s more illustrative,” Thompson said. “There are more graphics. You’ll be able to see it more than just have to read it. There are more charts, tables and graphs.”
City Administrator Mike Darrow said the ordinance will be the first of its kind in the area.
“It will be the first ordinance that looks at form-based principles within the context of western Wisconsin,” Darrow said. “It looks at the sense of place and each neighborhood rather than each use, like our old ordinance. It’s looking at the unique principles of each neighborhood in the city. It looks at principles such as connectivity, design, bulk standards, setbacks, heights and those kinds of things.”
Thompson said the process began by looking at the city’s downtown business district and what would make sense to be in each area moving outward.
Separating zones strictly by use makes it impossible to put something like a corner store or coffee shop in a neighborhood zoned only for residential use. The form-based zoning ordinance will be more flexible, but it still won’t allow for a massive industrial factory to be built in a cozy residential area.
The zoning ordinance draft lays out seven distinct zoning districts labeled Z1 through Z7:
— Z1 Agricultural/ Preservation
— Z2 Sub-Urban
— Z3 Multi-use/Corridor
— Z4 General Urban
— Z5 Traditional Neighborhood
— Z6 Central Business
— Z7 Specific Use/Industrial
Those interested in reviewing the zoning ordinance draft can find it online at bit.ly/NRZoningDraft.
The new draft zoning ordinance is now being reviewed at an area law firm. A public hearing on the proposed zoning ordinance is scheduled to take place at an upcoming Plan Commission. The City Council will then consider adopting the new ordinance at a meeting this fall.
Zoning subcommittee members
The zoning subcommittee that began working in January on the city’s new zoning ordinance included the following individuals:
— Mayor Fred Horne
— Alderperson Jane Hansen
— Former Alderperson Bobbie Dale-Wozniak
— City Administrator Mike Darrow
— City Clerk Tanya Reigel
— Community Development Director Beth Thompson
— Public Works Director Jeremiah Wendt
— Building inspector Sarah Skinner
— NRPD officer Jason Noel
— Mike Evans of Faith Community Church
— Todd Loehr of Wisconsin Lighting
— Greg Christensen of Frontier Ag & Turf
— Oranzo Oevering of Oevering Homes
— Irv Sather of the Heritage Center
The committee and city staff also were assisted by Kendra Lindahl and Danyelle Pierquet of Landform.