Culver’s Matrix

No, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are not dodging  slow-motion bullets on the streets of Culver ala The Matrix.  It’s nothing that exciting.  The matrix I’m referring to is the one that appears in Chapter 3, Section 3.0 – Authorized Uses in the Culver Zoning Ordiance.  It was the topic of discussion at the last Zoning Ordinance Review Committee Meeting on January 21, 2009.

The Zoning Ordinance matrix specifies the district in which a defined property use is allowed.  Just to pick the first one from the list, “Apartment Units” are allowed  in the R-2, C-1 & C-2 districts as well as by Special Use in the S-1 and L-1 districts if specifically approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).  The matrix was set up as the first line of defense against district creep and spot zoning, which are considered bad things in Zoning Ordinances such as ours and the ones ours was patterned after.  Under our ordinance, where often R-2 is adjacent to R-1, you can have an apartment building (R-2 use) adjacent to a single family home (R-1 or R-2 use), but if that apartment building would want to expand across that line, they would need to go through public hearings at the Plan Commission and then at the Town Council in order to rezone the property to R-2.  This can be a tedious process and with the required advertising and required number of meetings generally takes 4-6 months.

I went to this meeting with a large list of changes.  I personally feel that the Special Use designation should be used more liberally throughout the districts.  This not only allows more opportunities to create communities as discussed here previously, but it gives the BZA the  flexibility to support something that is good for the overall Town of Culver in an expedient manner.  Obtaining a variance for a Special Use from the BZA can be tedious as well, but could change the process to 30 days in lieu of several months.  It also allows the Town more opportunities for control as the BZA can add whatever additional restrictions they deem appropriate, such as buffers, setbacks, etc. as part of the agreement.

One thing that has been driven home to me from my time on the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) is the fast pace of development and the need for communities to expedite processes.  Time is of the essence in almost any project though.  Just the weather becomes an issue in our area.

The committee disagreed with me on this issue, opting for slowing the process as a means of maintaining greater control.  I can understand the merit to this argument.  Slowing the process allows more time for input, reducing the possibility of misunderstandings and mistakes.  It may well eliminate us from some development considerations though.  We did add some S’s to the matrix, but I did not submit all of those that I thought had merit once I understood the thinking of the group.

During the discussion, the property at the end of Jefferson Street targeted by the Culver Redevelopment Commission was considered.  This property is currently designated as I-1.  We considered adding special uses to I-1 to allow commercial uses since we thought commercial uses were more likely here.  The committee was somewhat split on this.  Some wanted to rezone it to C-2 rather than adding Special Use.  In the end, it was decided that this should go to the Plan Commission to consider rezoning.  I will probably speak against this if it comes up.  I don’t believe we should eliminate the industrial option.  I believe allowing some C-2 uses here via Special Use would be a more effective plan and allow more options to a potential developer.

We made more than a few changes.  We added some Special Use designation, mainly to cover existing conditions.  We reorganized some of the sections in order to group like uses together.  We also created a new section to cover Utilities and added a new use to cover Wind Energy Conversion Systems.  I’ve included a copy of the revised matrix here.  The changes are shown in green.  I would have liked to have seen more changes, but I think we made some progress.

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