Originally drafted in 1962, the city’s development ordinance is ready for a new millennium upgrade.

Originally drafted in 1962, the city’s development ordinance is ready for a new millennium upgrade.

Jennifer Clark, the city’s director for community development, said a new and improved unified development ordinance will provide clear guidelines for land use in the city and evaluate the impact of the uses in existing neighborhoods.

In a study session presentation Monday to the Independence City Council, Clark said the ordinance would also reduce conflicting land uses and increase compatible ones.

“The (original) ordinance considers zoning and subdivisions (developments) separately, which creates a disjointed process for review in land use proposals,” Clark said.

Clark added the new ordinance is necessary to meet the needs of today’s market, keep up with current trends and technology, improve the quality of new development and enhance and preserve existing neighborhoods.

“This is... certainly keeping with the desires of the community,” she said.

The main purpose of the ordinance, Clark said, is to entice higher quality developments and clarify the development process. For example, Clark said in residential zoning districts, the current ordinance – which was revised in 1974 and 1999 – has no current design guidelines in 12 residential districts, allows 1-43 units per acre and requires open space in up to 25 percent of developmental sites.

The proposed ordinance would apply citywide residential design guidelines, reduce residential districts to eight, allow 1-30 units per acre and require open space at 30 percent of all sites; 60 percent for conservation development, which would reduce lot sizes.

“Many of the changes simply identify current practices more carefully to eliminate subjectivity,” Clark said.

A public hearing on the UDO is scheduled for May 7 during a Planning Commission hearing. The ordinance will be introduced to the City Council June 1, voted on two weeks later and, if approved, implemented July 1.

“You don’t have to read through all 300 pages (of the draft ordinance) to realize this is easier to understand,” said City Manager Robert Heacock. “It’s in more of a lay person’s language and that’s what this is about. You have to have an easily understandable code and a code that has flexibility.”

 

PUBLIC HEARING

A public hearing on the adoption of a new Unified Development Ordinance to replace the current Independence zoning code will be before the Planning Commission at 6:30 p.m. May 7 in the City Council Chambers on the lower level at City Hall, 111 E. Maple.
A review draft has been completed and is available for viewing at the Community Development Department located on the 2nd Floor of City Hall. It is also on the city’s Web site www.independencemo.org on the Community Development Department page.
The current zoning ordinance was originally adopted in 1962 with major revisions in 1974 and 1999.