A steering committee comprised of members from Pickerington's Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council met Feb. 20 for the first time in what is expected to be a yearlong process to revise the city's zoning code.
"We've got a lot of work ahead of us," said City Councilman Jeff Fix, who, along with Cristie Hammonds and Chris Schweitzer, represents City Council on the Zoning Revision Steering Committee.
Paula Evans and Doug Blake are the Planning and Zoning Commission members that round out a committee charged with the comprehensive overhaul of the city's zoning code.
Jennifer Readler of the law firm Ice Miller lead the discussion. The firm and consultants MKSK are being paid $110,000 by the city to re-write the code.
The revisions discussed at the Feb. 20 meeting centered on Commercial/Industrial Districts and Non-residential Design Guidelines in the city's zoning code.
Readler said not everything needs to be tinkered with.
"In talking to staff, the Non-residential Design Guidelines have been pretty successful," Readler said.
"We didn't want to wholesale revise those," she said.
Readler said it will be important to keep the public in the loop during the process and keep the revisions "posted on-line so the public can review or submit any questions they might have."
Fix asked Readler how the new code will be able to properly address future uses that have not even been contemplated.
"No one would (have) known we would need cellular retail or electric pumps for cars," Fix said.
"How do you predict future catch-all (provisions) that allows things to happen?" he asked.
"One of the new sections will have a provision for 'un-named' uses," Readler said.
"We can't contemplate every possible use," she said.
"We hope the (new code) will last 30 odd years."
Fix asked Readler if the new zoning code could outright prohibit certain uses in the city.
"It's very, very difficult to do that," Readler said.
"We're going to list all the permitted and conditional uses. Everything else is prohibited.
"When you start making a list of what is prohibited, it's impossible to classify everything," Readler said.
She said, for example, Pickerington can't ban sexually-oriented businesses from locating in the city, but it can regulate things like location and hours based on "adverse secondary impacts."
Readler said Non-Residential Design Guidelines now has its own chapter.
The old code merely listed the guidelines as an appendix, making it difficult for some developers to determine applicability.
"It helps with enforceability, it helps with ease of reference," she said.
Development Services Director Joe Henderson said making guidelines its own chapter "will make everything easier for developers in the city."
The next Zoning Code Revision Steering Committee meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, in Pickerington City Hall.