WILMINGTON — Creating an updated zoning code with transparency is the overall intention of the Wilmington Zoning Update Task Force.
Wednesday marked the fourth time the task force met, led by Taylor Stuckert of the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission and Zach Moore of the Warren County Regional Planning Commission.
“The way that we approached it was the city zoning code is old and dated. But it’s had a lot of issues that have developed over the years because it’s never had a full update,” said Stuckert after the meeting.
The way they decided to approach it was through a citizen participation process — namely, something that would be transparent and had citizens engaged in the process, according to Stuckert. This would allow citizens to read the proposed language, provide feedback on specific parts which would create a vetted code that would be proposed.
“It’s an opportunity for citizen and public engagement, and to involve citizens in the updating process,” said Stuckert.
Stuckert said a challenge they face is since the current code has been amended over the years with certain core aspects not being addressed “in a meaningful way,” the code has become complicated. He hopes this task force creates a new more simplified code.
Another goal, which was discussed during Wednesday’s meeting, was the hope of creating a more objective way of handling issues. At the meeting, ordinances concerning sound were brought up.
There are already sound ordinances in place, according to Stuckert, but there isn’t a good way for the city to respond to the issue.
During this time they’ve also received concerns that the task force is just the G-1 Gateway Zoning coming back. The main concerns come from resident Vince Holmes. He believes that city officials didn’t accept or approve of the G-1 defeat in 2015.
“This ‘Zoning Task Force’ is to get G-1 Gateway Zoning back under a different name,” Holmes said in a written statement. “They are using thousands of our tax dollars for this scheme.”
Stuckert advises that he doesn’t fully understand what Holmes is claiming exactly or what he’s suggesting.
“If he’s suggesting that we’re simply just rewriting the G-1 zoning, he’s wrong,” said Stuckert.
G-1 Gateway zoning was an ordinance that would have rezoned more than 370 parcels of land in Wilmington. Supporters of it argued it would protect historic homes, the community’s historic fabric and preserve a good first impression on those entering the city. The opposition toward it argued it didn’t provide enough protection for homes and is government overreach. The ordinance failed to get enough votes to pass during the November 2015 election.
Stuckert said that back at a judiciary committee meeting in April 2016 he was in favor of repealing the G-1 ordinance if that was how the city felt. But he and others felt that the zoning code issues still needed to be handled.
“At that meeting when we were discussing zoning, some of the aspects of it and issues, it was brought up that one way to approach this would be a task force,” said Stuckert.
This way it wouldn’t be just proposing amendments and handing it off to council, but taking time to look over the issues and deliberate about it.
The task force held its first meeting on Sept. 25, 2017, and currently consists of 15 locals including city officials. Among them include Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker, Code Enforcement Official Mark Wiswell, Building and Zoning Clerk Michelle Horner, Law Director Brett Rudduck, and Wilmington Police Chief Duane Weyand.
Their next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2018. For more information about the task force and to see their meeting schedule go to www.wilmingtonzoningupdate.com .
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574.