Columbus Weighs Revisions to Outdated, Inequitable Zoning Code

The city is seeking ways to boost affordable housing development and encourage mixed-use, transit-oriented development.

April 5, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Randall Vermillion / Shutterstock

Renee Fox reports on the city of Columbus' efforts to reform their zoning code and redress historical injustices, make building easier, and encourage affordable housing development. "The city’s code was written in the 1950s when city planning tools to keep certain neighborhoods for white people with money were spreading like wildfire in cities like Columbus, [Glennon Sweeney, senior research associate at The Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity] said."

According to the article, "The code isn’t just racist, the piecemeal maze also makes it complicated, time-consuming and costly to create the types of projects the city wants to see developed." Michael Stevens, the city’s director of development, is quoted as saying, "In its current form it is inadequate at facilitating affordable housing, protecting job centers and encouraging transit-supportive mixed-use corridors that are needed to help all of our residents thrive."

The city commissioned a study to outline the challenges posed by the outdated zoning code and recommendations for adapting it to modern needs. "Stevens said the city wants to encourage infill development, the type that occurs in places where development already existed, but existing code encourages development in areas previously untouched, creating sprawl."

As Fox writes, "The code is expected to take several years to rehaul, but planners are looking into addressing identified growth corridors sooner. The city is entering the second phase of the project where it will use a consultant to gather community input and start developing ideas for the new code."

Monday, April 4, 2022 in WOSU

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