PIQUA — The city of Piqua’s review of and update to the zoning code — a project dubbed Code Piqua — is still ongoing with plans to have a complete draft with all code sections included for public review in August.
The project has been ongoing since early 2018 when the Piqua City Commission approved Code Studio to update the land use and development codes and create a thoroughfare plan within the city at a cost not to exceed $150,000. The last time the zoning code was updated was in 1996. The updates will reflect the recommendations included in the city’s 2007 Comprehensive Plan Update, as well as moving to a form-based zoning code.
“In the planning and zoning world, a ‘form-based’ code is one that grants more zoning categories, allowing for a mix of uses and adaptive reuse, while choosing to focus more on the affect the structure has in its context,” Piqua City Planner Kyrsten French said.
French used the example of houses located in different neighborhoods and businesses located in different shopping districts to show how a form-based code could be applied to promote neighborhood qualities that enhance existing developments and create a sense of a place.
“Take for example, if you choose a house in the Deerfield subdivision and compare it to a house in the Caldwell neighborhood, they are both regulated the same way, even though they were built with different characters and different purposes in mind,” French said. “Or a business located in a shopping center versus a business downtown. They have different characters, but may have similar uses. For example, a drive thru located in an auto-dominated shopping center setting fit in pretty well, as opposed to a drive thru in the downtown environment where accommodating additional curb cuts and vehicular movements can create an unsafe condition for pedestrians.”
For residential neighborhoods, Code Piqua aims to “preserve history, sense of place, and neighborhood cohesiveness,” while also making it easier for residents to “age in place,” such as allowing certain residences with adequate parking to add on “small accessory suites” to accommodate more family members moving in with each other.
“Allowing residential properties within appropriate districts to construct new ‘mother-in-law’ suites grants affordable options for family members, creates a potential revenue stream for homeowners, while adhering to standards that maintain privacy for neighbors. This is a housing type that is prevalent in the Caldwell historic district, so this change will allow Piqua to return to a historic development pattern,” according to Code Piqua documents.
French added that a form-based code can also offer a more graphically-represented zoning code.
“Rather than reading dry legalese, users can look at graphics, maps and tables to figure out what is possible,” she said.
The updates to the zoning code are also aiming to be more flexible when guiding future redevelopment, such as welcoming new uses and ideas for buildings like old industrial sites that no longer house the business for which they were built.
“Flexibility and adaptability are very important when it comes to creating a strong local economy. A zoning code approach that purports to be able to predict exactly what use should go exactly where will fail as market conditions change, technologies change, and people’s preferences change,” French said. “Code Piqua will include provisions that guide future redevelopment while ensuring that adaptive reuse of industrial sites, big box stores, and other buildings can be accommodated as market conditions change.”
Code Piqua also aims to make it easier for childcare facilities to find a place in Piqua. According to Code Piqua documents, updates to the zoning code will include new zoning standards to “accommodate more desperately-needed childcare facilities to be located within our community, while ensuring that neighborhoods remain peaceful in terms of noise and traffic.”
As for the thoroughfare plan that will come with Code Piqua, it includes plans to remove semi-trucks from passing through the downtown.
“Essentially, the idea is to create an alternate route for trucks while implementing traffic calming measures downtown to make the alternate route the most appealing course,” French said.
The transportation plan also includes plans to build on the bicycle infrastructure, such as more connecting routes to the main trail system and on-street bike lanes to connect neighborhoods and other destinations.
“We have a fantastic system of bike infrastructure now, and we are looking to build on that incrementally and formalize some of the routes most frequently taken on city streets,” French said.
The Community and Economic Development Department has drafts and proposed plans available on codepiqua.com. French said they are planning to have a complete draft with all of the code sections available for the public to review by Aug. 10 on that website.
“We will have a public workshop at the end of August to address changes and get feedback from stakeholders and the wider community,” French said. “More opportunities for feedback will be available throughout September, as well. We hope to take a revised draft to the Planning and City Commissions for review by November.”
For more information or to view the latest drafts, visit codepiqua.com.