PERRY -- Since Perry officials already were planning to rewrite hundreds of pages of planning and zoning rules anyway, a city planner has proposed changing to a different kind of zoning altogether.
Called “form-based” zoning codes, they focus more on the style of a building -- how it looks and where the parking is located -- than what actually occurs inside. Perry’s zoning codes now allow specific uses in areas, such as allowing convenience stores in neighborhood commercial zones, but form-based zoning might prohibit night clubs that would disturb nearby residents.
“Rather than focus on what can be allowed in there, you would focus on what could not,” said City Manager Lee Gilmour, who attempted to explain the measure to City Council members Thursday night.
But some council members and Mayor Jimmy Faircloth still struggled with the concept.
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“I’m having difficulty wrapping my mind around how this would be different from what we have,” Faircloth said.
Mike Beecham, director of community development, floated the proposal. He said he didn’t want to propose it to the city’s Planning Commission without seeing if City Council wanted him to explore the issue more.
Most council members didn’t appear inherently against the idea, but skepticism and confusion reigned. None threw full support behind the idea.
Beecham said it was a new concept, which could put an office complex, retailers and apartments in close proximity together and all looking somewhat similar. If an apartment building becomes vacant, it could be converted into an office, Beecham said.
Several council members said they wanted to increase restrictions in some areas to improve the look of General Courtney Hodges Boulevard, rather than decrease the restrictions.
Faircloth told The Telegraph he expects Beecham will present the concept to the Planning Commission.
Separately Thursday, council members asked staff members to turn the city’s master and strategic plans into an implementation plan, so they can set milestones and budget for improvements.
Council members also discussed changes to the city’s yard debris process. The city plans to tell customers to begin bagging leaves, reversing a long-standing policy.
The council also informally agreed it should replace a water plant aerator that’s more than 30 years old. The replacement will be a fiberglass model for about $75,000. The current model leaks about 500,000 gallons per year, or about a gallon every minute.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.