Glendale is hoping to bring clarity and user-friendliness to its Zoning Code by capturing the feedback from its residents.
The city of Glendale held a community open house Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Glendale Civic Center Annex. The city invited residents who wanted to give input as to what should be addressed during the rewriting of the city’s zoning code.
Lisa Collins, Interim Development Services Director with the City of Glendale, said, “This open house is an opportunity for everyone to come out and to look and at what’s going on and to say what is important to them.”
Every piece of property in the city has a zoning classification, Collins said, like commercial and housing, and said classification will determine the uses of the property and how it can be developed.
“The whole idea of zoning is to make sure dissimilar uses are not placed too close to each other,” Collins said.
Collins said the zoning code was last comprehensively updated in 1993. Since this time, only portions of the code have been amended to respond to the changing needs of the community and address specific impacts of development.
This, Collins said, has caused the zoning code to become vague and convoluted. She said it is not user-friendly and it is important for residents to be able to understand it.
“We needed to clean it up and we needed to get with the times too,” Collins said. “There are some uses and other things not addressed and it’s vague.”
Collins said the process of rewriting the zoning code takes 16 months and the city began at the end of 2019. She said the process will conclude during the first part of 2021.
To get the input of the people, Collins said they have reached out to different city committees, residents, developers and major property owners to understand what it is people want. She said the goal is to create a regulatory Zoning Code but a reasonable one.
“I think making sure we’re addressing everything we need to is always the challenge,” Collins said. “Cities don’t remain the same, they’re ever-changing, so you need to write a document clear enough and specific enough.”
To help with the rewriting, the city hired Michael Baker International, a consulting firm.
Matthew Klyszeiko, from Michael Baker International, said they began to work on the rewrite summer of 2019. He said one of the biggest challenges is the size of Glendale and making sure they respect the different development patterns, while still creating a specific zoning code.
“When we’re dealing with zoning, we’re trying to guide existing use of properties as well as future development, so we have to be mindful of different scenarios,” Klyszeiko said.
In addition, Klyszeiko said they will help put zoning, design and code enforcement all under one umbrella.
“The zoning code is normally just a component of the city code,” Klyszeiko said. “It’s hard to navigate, so we’re going to put all of this into the Unified Development Code and will become one article of the city code, so residents won’t have to go all over the place to get an answer.”
Craig Archibald, a resident of Glendale for 15 years, was present at the open house. He had a few things to say when it came to landscaping.
“My feedback is I would like them to be a little more proactive on the things that are a nuisance,” Archibald said. “Weeds in particular.”
Archibald said he has been coded in the past for having a dead tree. He said some people assume the reason people are not following code is because they are lazy, but he said it’s not always the case. Sometimes people are busy or are unable to follow the code for external reasons.
“It’s a fine line the city code has to walk to not being an annoyance versus being proactive and helping the neighborhoods,” Archibald said.
One thing he believes should be completely enforced is weed control. He said there isn’t a reason anybody should have weeds higher than 6 inches.
Jane Bachmann, a Glendale resident who attended the event, said, “I was glad to see the wireless communications be addressed in future zoning updates. Residents are beginning to see these towers pop up in their neighborhoods and are concerned about their rights.”
Another aspect the city will delve into is parking, Klyszeiko said. Some people have expressed it can be frustrating when people have too many cars parked on the street, especially if they aren’t regularly moved.
“We’ll be looking at off-street parking and the ratios of parking,” Klyszeiko said. “We want to look at all the uses and the parking requirements for those to make sure we’re not excessively over parking areas.”
In addition, Klyszeiko said they will focus on Downtown Glendale and make zoning more business-friendly to assist its growth.
Klyszeiko said the zoning code will be divided into five modules. They will gather the feedback they have collected and utilize this information to prepare a draft for each module and then put it out for public review. He said they will focus on approving one module at a time before moving on to the next. He said they are hoping to have the first draft done by the end of March.
The rewrite of the Zoning Code is meant to bring clarification to the Glendale residents, reportedly, as well as making sure it is relevant with today’s trends. As it develops into a Unified Development Code, residents will, reportedly, be able to quickly lookup the code and enforce it.