The city of Columbus is taking an additional step to help notify residents of potential zoning changes in three neighborhoods.
The pilot program requires the rezoning applicant to post a sign between 48 and 72 hours after filing the application. The sign would provide details about proposed changes.
The program is in effect in areas represented by the Northland Community Council, the South Side Area Commission and the Near East Area Commission.
“This is just another level of transparency that this is what is proposed and coming to the area,” said Lee Cole, spokeswoman for Columbus City Council.
The program, which also gives residents a method to contact city officials about further details regarding the zoning change, runs through the end of the year. It will be evaluated to see if it’s worth expanding, Cole said.
Applicants at the time of filing the rezoning request will be given a sign that would indicate the site is subject to a rezoning.
It would list a city telephone number (614-645-7433) and an email address (email@example.com) to be used to obtain additional information, Cole said.
During the pilot period, the Columbus Building and Zoning Services Department will pay for the signs, which are created in-house, she said.
Some residents said they did not receive proper advisories about big land-use changes in their communities, Cole said.
“It varies greatly from project to project,” she said.
Columbus City Council member Emmanuel Remy, a former chairman of the Northland Community Council, said he had worked with the Building and Zoning Services Department on the pilot program because of frustration voiced by residents who have said they often were not made aware of particular development projects.
The areas were chosen predominantly because of their busy development schedules and how local civic groups handle such requests, Remy said.
He said he would like to take the program citywide.
Remy said he doesn’t believe it would be a burdensome step for developers.
“I think it’s very reasonable,” he said. “I talked to some developers and no one’s expressed any concerns about it. And that’s why we’re doing the pilot, to see if there’s any frustration caused by the program.”
The current code requires the city to provide notice to area commissions or related civic groups and to mail notices to all property owners within 125 feet of the parcel under consideration, said Anthony Celebrezze, spokesman for Building and Zoning Services.
The code additionally requires Scott Messer, the Building and Zoning Services Department director, to assemble reports from all affected city agencies and submit the information to the Columbus Development Commission prior to a public hearing on the rezoning request, Celebrezze said.
That report will look at other similarly zoned parcels in the area, what is allowed in the new zoning district, whether those uses are compatible with the immediate area and whether the new zoning parcel fits with the character of the neighborhood, he said.
• The pilot program will work with the areas represented by the Columbus South Side Area Commission, the Near East Area Commission and the Northland Community Council.
• The pilot program will run through the end of the year. Area commissions will partner with Columbus City Council to provide feedback and help evaluate the program.
• Signs will be made of weather-resistant material on a stake, easily inserted into the ground and sized about 27 inches by 18 inches.
• Signs will include the rezoning application number, a phone number and email address where residents can find additional information.
• Applicants will be required to place the sign on the property per an instructional white paper provided by the Building and Zoning Services Department and send a photo of the sign to the agency to confirm the sign has been posted.
• BZS employees who answer calls and emails made to the number and address on the signs will ask for feedback about the zoning notification signs pilot program.