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Use groups designed to simplify city zoning

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Springfield’s Zoning Ordinance may see some changes, as city leaders consider a proposal designed to make zoning easier to use.

The city's Planning and Zoning Commission approved a new section to the Zoning Ordinance at its June 10 meeting. The proposal creates use groups in some of the city’s zoning districts, which gives city staff more flexibility when determining whether a business is a good fit for a certain area.

Use groups will list characteristics of businesses, compared to the current method of listing specific types of permissible businesses in each district.

Part of the problem with the current system, said Geoffrey Butler, CEO of Butler, Rosenbury & Partners Inc., is that the ordinance – rewritten in 1995 – couldn’t predict some of today’s business uses.

“They listed uses with prescriptive wording, like skating rink, bowling alley, restaurant with drive-through, restaurant without drive-through,” he said. “There are uses now that didn’t exist then – Internet car sales, for example.”

The amendment doesn’t change other restrictions within the ordinance, such as setbacks and height requirements, said Principal City Planner Mike MacPherson, adding that it also will not affect residential districts.

“The way we do business now, it puts the Building Development Services Director in a spot where he has to say no,” said Principal City Planner Mike MacPherson. “Now, he can say, ‘Does it work and is it an appropriate fit?’ and that can allow someone to move forward without having to rezone or be turned down.”

The next stop for the change is City Council’s July 12 meeting, where it will be up for public discussion.[[In-content Ad]]

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