In an effort to move the city of Daleville’s zoning ordinance from the “rotary dial era to the smart phone era,” the Planning Commission and the City Council are now one step closer to a new and improved zoning ordinance to help spur the future of the city. Mayor Claudia Wigglesworth made the phone analogy during a joint meeting of the council and planning commission Feb. 16.Planning Commission Chairman Frank Moore, said, “This has been needed for some time and it is something we have been aware of (the decades-old and somewhat obsolete current zoning ordinance). Tonight, we are to that point of having a formal presentation…It is quite extensive. We have a number of new items in the regulation, a complete reorganization, if you will.“This brings us up to truly an up-to-date ordinance…This has many benefits not only to our own constituency but also to those who will be coming to our community and perhaps not only living here but also creating new business and new opportunities for our citizens.”Jason Fondren with KPS Group, Inc.—an architectural and planning company—in Birmingham presented an hour-plus long, detailed presentation to citizens and the council during the joint meeting. He detailed dozens of changes and improvements in the current document and also explained via a PowerPoint presentation an overlay of how the city’s zones would look if the current plan is ultimately approved.Fondren said, “The most extensive changes are mostly housekeeping and will go unnoticed by the community---reorganization and modernizing of terminology and definitions to better relate to current development practices, removing conflicts and clarifying the intent of existing rules and procedures. All of these little changes will make it easier to administer, help make city decisions more consistent and make it easier to understand.“Changes that will have an impact on future investment are the creation of overlay zones for commercial corridors, an institutional district, a new residential zoning district and elimination of some obsolete districts… The proposed commercial overlay districts would create standards for landscaping and façade materials. The standards also address the height of freestanding lights and signs to be more fitting to the character and scale of each business area. These standards would only take effect when someone wants to build new or do a major overhaul or expansion of their current business. There is only one requirement that would have more immediate impact. Outdoor storage, work yards, and display areas that are in front of buildings in an overlay district would have to be moved indoors or moved behind the building and screened within two years of adoption of the new rules.”Wigglesworth told the Sun-Courier, “Obviously zoning and how we are zoned is about land use. We have a comprehensive plan that outlines our vision of where we see ourselves and part of that plan is making sure we are postured for growth in terms of our land use…Obviously, the gateway to Fort Rucker and our U.S. Highway 84 areas are very visible and key and are the areas that will be developed and available for businesses.“So, we’re making sure we have the zoning ordinance that provides the best business environment and growth environment. Let’s have a document that’s very user friendly for those who live and work here already and for those interested in coming here to live and/or invest in the city.”The mayor also sits on the Planning Commission and has been involved in the review process. “It might sound or look like there’s a lot of changes, but a lot of them are just necessary because a lot of it (the current ordinance) is outdated…It was necessary for clarity. It is long overdue,” she explained.Moore also told the Sun-Courier, “There will be no effect on current property owners, home owners, or businesses as long as the use of the property remains as it is currently. In the future, new construction, change of use of a property, or rezoning request would require the owner to conform to the zoning regulations and ordinance in effect at the time of the request of a building permit, application of subdivision plat, or change in use of the property.One portion of the new ordinance does require action by owners as it relates to the Commercial Overlay Districts…the time period before any action would be required by a property owner within the Commercial District to comply with the new overlay ordinance requirements… The adoption of the proposed zoning ordinance will enable the City of Daleville to have more functional, easy to understand, zoning regulation and requirements for the future growth within the city…(It) removes out-of-date and nonfunctional terminology and uses. The current ordinance was formulated in the 1970s and no longer meets the needs of today’s standards of community development.Public hearings before the Planning Commission are expected to begin in April which will then decide whether to recommend the plan to the council. If recommended to the council, that body would then hold a public hearing in May or later. Officials hope the entire process will be complete some time in the summer of the current year.The Comprehensive Plan and the current city ordinances can be found online at www.dalevilleal.com.
Jason Fondron with KPS Group, Inc. in Birmingham—a planning and architectural firm— points out clarifications of an overlay for proposed zoning ordinance updates for Daleville during the Feb. 16 joint meeting of the Daleville City Council and Planning Commission.