WILMINGTON — A proposed draft document of an updated city zoning code is now in the hands of Wilmington City Council’s Judiciary Committee.
The draft zoning code is a product of 10 monthly meetings of a zoning task force comprised of 15 residents, many of them private citizens. That process was followed by an open house for the public to view the proposal, and then a review by the City Planning Commission, which led to the commission recommending approval.
Judiciary Committee Chairperson Matt Purkey said at Thursday night’s council meeting that he will try not to keep the draft code in committee for more than a month before presenting it as legislation to the full council to act on.
At a slide presentation during the council session from Senior Planner Zachary Moore, four things were listed as “significant achievements” in the updated draft code.
First, there were parts of the code that related to signs that were unconstitutional, and those are now constitutional, said Moore.
Second, code parking space requirements are more flexible, he said. There is a wider window of acceptable numbers for off-street parking spaces — up to 10 percent more or 20 percent fewer. And there will be no required off-street parking for establishments in the downtown district.
In that regard, Clinton County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Taylor Stuckert said Thursday that base amounts for required parking spaces have been adjusted based on best practices that have been learned over time.
Third, what Moore called a big improvement for anyone relying on the zoning code for guidance — there will be a table or chart. With the table, a person can readily see which districts a gas station, for instance, is permitted in, as well as which districts it is prohibited, and which districts it is a conditional use.
In the current code, on the other hand, a person has to look at every zoning district’s chapter to find where gas stations are permitted, Moore said.
And fourth, “to really protect community character,” a site review procedure has been added, said Moore. The City Planning Commission will review and act on site plans for non-residential and multi-family proposals with an eye to their design and impacts to the community.
In conjunction with thank-yous to the task force participants and with the conclusion of the slide presentation, Wilmington City Council President Mark McKay said, “This is the way government projects are supposed to work, with input from the citizens and government.”
To view an electronic version of the proposed zoning code and map, please visit www.wilmingtonzoningupdate.com .
The Judiciary Committee is comprised of Chairman Purkey, and members Michael Allbright and Bill Liermann.
Judiciary Committee meetings are open to the public. And the legislation is expected to receive readings at three separate meetings of the full council, and there will be at least one publicly noticed hearing on the matter.
In other council business:
• Council passed a measure approving an agreement between the city and Woolpert Inc. relative to preliminary work on a potential stormwater utility fee, which the City of Wilmington currently does not have. The legislation Thursday does not establish the fee, said Wilmington Director of Public Service and Safety Brian Shidaker.
He said most communities do have such a fee, and Wilmington needs to change its funding source because since the start of the local stormwater system, the city has used funds from the Wastewater Department, “which at the very least is inappropriate; it could be even more than just inappropriate.”
The two funding options, he said, are to offset expenses by supplementing from the city’s General Fund, or establish a stormwater utility fee.
• Council heard a first reading on a measure to increase wages under the employee pay plan for the 2018 calendar year retroactive to January, as well as an increase for the 2019 calendar year to non-bargaining, full-time employees. For each of the two years, the change would be a 2 percent cost-of-living increase.
For background, in 2009 in light of a severe economic downturn and to address city budget concerns, bargaining (union) and non-bargaining city employees agreed to eliminate all scheduled cost-of-living increases, thus locking the pay plan into the 2008 version.
Five years later in 2014 due to improving economic conditions, two cost-of-living increases of 2 percent each were established.
• Council held a first reading on a measure to purchase almost half an acre of land that adjoins the city-owned Sugar Grove Cemetery for $7,700 (not counting closing costs). Shidaker said the land will expand the cemetery’s capacity by probably 40 to 50 lots.
• Street paving soon will begin in the Southridge Subdivision area, said Mayor John Stanforth.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.