Columbia discusses proposed updates to city development code

Related Story

COLUMBIA — A town hall meeting to explain an updated development code for the city of Columbia was held Saturday morning at City Hall. 

More than 1,000 proposed changes to the city's current zoning codes were included in the proposal.

At the meeting, city leadership helped interested members of the Columbia community understand the changes in preparation for public hearings in May. 

In 2014 the city hired consulting firms Clarion Associates and Ferrell Madden LLC to examine and improve Columbia's current development code. Since then, the firms have held several public meetings to talk about the project. 

Several of the major proposed changes were discussed at Saturday's meeting. Topics included: 

  • Proposed new parking requirements
  • Development, redevelopment and sufficiency of services
  • Form-based controls in the downtown
  • Protections for existing neighborhoods
  • Administrative vs. legislative decisions 

The Development Code Update Project does not "rezone" property, but it does revise the rules for development in a number of zoning districts.

One of the biggest changes would be the use of "form-based" controls downtown. This type of zoning would allow for more flexibility in building use in return for a greater control over the form and shape of building.

According to Clarion Associates, form-based controls ensure that buildings “fit” well into the surrounding area and help to shape the public realm. 

Another goal of the project was to change the code's current structure to make it user-friendly for a wide variety of users. 

The Columbia Development Code consists of the full Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Regulations, Sign Ordinance, and parts of the Land Preservation and Planning Chapters of the City Code.