July 17, 2003



Zoning district is unnecessary

Just as there are times to act on good legislative proposals, there are also times to pass on unnecessary ordinances. A proposal before Village Council that would establish a new residential zoning district, whose only purpose is to create larger pieces of property, falls under the category of unnecessary. Council should do an about-face and reject this proposal, for it would do little to enhance the Village Zoning Code.

At its meeting Monday, July 21, Council is scheduled to vote on the second reading of an ordinance that would create a fourth residential zoning district, Residence A-1, in which lots would have a street frontage, or lot width, of 75 feet. The new district would not be applied to property until someone makes that kind of request. Any area rezoned Residence A-1 would have to be at least 10 acres large.

When Council members first considered the proposal last month, they were vague about their reasons for supporting it, and there was surprisingly little discussion on the matter. One Council member did say that the district would be useful for families that want larger lots for play areas for children, while another implied that it would provide more options for executive-style, or larger, housing. When it gave its blessing to the proposal last month, Village Planning Commission said that the new zone would provide the Village with another zoning tool, providing more building and zoning options in town. Next week, Council members should do a better job of explaining why they think the new district is needed.

Though there may be no harm in creating a new zoning district, there really appears to be no need to do so. Right now larger lots can be created in town through the current residential districts in the Zoning Code. The frontage standards in Residences A, B and C are minimum requirements.

The creation of the new district also contradicts a decision Council made earlier this spring to decrease the minimum lot frontage of the three residential districts the Village currently has on the books. The frontage requirements were reduced, in part, to make more lots eligible for development. While Council has made a point of emphasizing its desire to encourage more development in town, it’s unclear how Residence A-1 helps achieve that goal.

One more point: there appears to be little interest in the community for Residence A-1. The proposal creating the district sparked a good debate in the Planning Commission, but it has tiptoed through Council. Local residents should let Council know what they think about this proposed zoning district. So far, the silence has been almost deafening.

—Robert Mihalek