On Thursday, June 30th, the City is hosting an open house inviting the public to give feedback on proposed land use ordinance changes. The open house will be held at the Development Services building located at 303 First Street, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Land Use involves how people use the landscape, whether through development, conservation, or mixed use. Local governments manage land use and the development of real estate through zoning. Zoning regulations divide an area into residential, commercial, and industrial districts and direct development of property within those districts (or zones).
The City began drafting changes to Appendix A (Land Use) of its city ordinance more than a year ago to conform to state statutes and reflect modern best practices. Development Services Director Jeff Ruggieri presented the Board of Aldermen with an overview of the draft changes during a board meeting in September 2015, saying “the last time the City made significant updates to its land use ordinance was twenty years ago.” After that presentation, the draft changes were made available for review at the Development Services office and posted on the city website.
The land use ordinance proposal marks the first time the City has used a website portal offering users an easy, interactive way to read a document and provide feedback in real time. Comments could be made anonymously or publicly through the website and users were given the option to share their comments for widespread collaboration. Development Services staff have received about 50 comments on those changes through the portal, and about a dozen people visited the office to review and comment on the draft. The online portal is still open for public input. You can find it on the City’s website at NewBern-NC.org/2015draft.
The proposed changes include nearly 60 pages of edits to things like building height measurements, subdivisions, permissible uses, and parking requirements. One of the most popular topics within the proposal is allowing food trucks in the city, a growing trend in food service. Another proposed change provides pedestrian amenities for all commercial and residential developments where adjacent ones already exist.
“The changes we’ve proposed will help continue growth in New Bern and will help us remain attractive to economic development,” said Jeff Ruggieri. “We encourage everyone to come out to the open house. Staff will be on hand throughout the day making presentations and answering questions.”
Once all feedback is culminated, a presentation for approval will be made before the Planning and Zoning Board. That presentation is scheduled for July 5, 2016 at 6 pm at City Hall.
Submitted by: Collleen Roberts, Public Information Officer, City of New Bern NC