Apr 24, 2024 - News

New gallery gives residents closer look at Zone In proposal

A zoning code exhibit space with two people standing in front of a large display of photos.

The Zone In Gallery at 141 N. Front Street. Photos: Tyler Buchanan/Axios

Columbus has opened a public exhibit for residents to learn more about the city's zoning code overhaul.

Why it matters: Columbus has grown five times in size and more than doubled in population since the zoning code was last substantively updated in the 1950s.

The big picture: The Zone In project seeks to help fix our housing shortage and affordability problems by adjusting the rules of what can be built and where.

  • This space, along with an ongoing public comment period, gives residents a say on the city's formal proposal released earlier in April.

Driving the news: Axios recently toured the Zone In Gallery with Council president pro tem Rob Dorans, who chairs the Building & Zoning Policy Committee.

  • The gallery features large charts showcasing the city's growth and a touchscreen map highlighting the 4% of parcels (12,299 in total) that would fall under the new zoning guidelines.
  • Future phases of zoning reform will likely cover more areas of town, Dorans says.

What they're saying: "Our current code is restrictive," he says, a "relic" of outdated city planning that prioritized urban sprawl and vehicle travel above all else.

  • He says zoning officials currently "govern by exception" on a project-by-project basis, while a streamlined code would spur more housing by making the development and planning processes easier.

Zoom in: The proposed map features six new zoning districts targeting public transit areas where more housing density "makes the most sense," Dorans says.

  • Zone In would reshape city policy in several ways:

🏗 More density via taller buildings. Height restrictions would vary by neighborhood, with "bonus" floors approved for projects that include affordable housing.

  • Reasonable limits would remain in place, Dorans says: "This isn't gonna turn Bethel Road into Manhattan."

🛏️ 🍽️ Embrace mixed-use spaces. The existing code typically separates commercial and residential spaces, but the new code would encourage mixed-use buildings and more walkable neighborhoods.

❌ No more parking requirements. Developers would choose how many spaces to build.

What's next: The city is hearing insights from area commissions as well as public comments through June 10.

  • Dorans anticipates a Council vote in July.

Be smart: See the proposed map … read more about Zone In … share feedback.

Large gallery exhibits showcasing new zoning code policies for Columbus.
The gallery features large displays of the new zoning code proposal.

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