Most people wouldn’t go out of their way to spend time thinking about zoning related to real estate, but it’s crucial in how cities are shaped and grow.
Zoning starts with what uses are allowed in certain areas, such as manufacturing verses a restaurant, and then spells out elements such as how high buildings are allowed to be built.
The City of Albuquerque is working on rewriting its zoning code, the Integrated Development Ordinance. City planners just released the zoning code’s first module, which proposes new zones that will replace all of the old zones.
Mikaela Renz-Whitmore, a planner with the city, said the current system is so inconsistent, vast and complex that it’s hard for developers to introduce new ideas to the city.
For example, Renz-Whitmore said new container development Green Jeans Farmery had a hard time getting through the system because there wasn’t anything in the zoning code that resembled such a development.
In the current code, there are about 40 standalone sector development plans with zoning, which are rules for specific areas such as Downtown’s 2025 sector development plan. On top of that, there are about 550 special-use zones, which relate to specific properties.
City planners are trying to condense all of those zones into fewer than 20 proposed categories.
Renz-Whitmore said the new categories are fairly intuitive and fall under either residential, nonresidential or mixed-use categories.
“Our goal is not to take away uses but replace it with a framework and system that’s much easier to understand and administer so we can develop the kinds of things people want to see,” she said.
The city of Albuquerque has held five public meetings over two days about the proposed categories, meetings that ranged from 15 to 60 people.
While residents worried that the elimination of some sector plans will take away property rights and neighborhood protections, businesses and developers sometimes want to throw out sector plans all together, especially if the plans hinder new development.
“We’re trying to strike that balance, which raises quality while also not making it so difficult to develop in Albuquerque so that we get the kinds of redevelopment and invest where we want them,” she said.
The city is hosting one more public meeting about the new categories. The meeting takes place Thursday, Oct. 29 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at City Hall, the Council Committee Room on the 9th floor.
For more information, visit the city’s ABC-Zone website.
By: Stephanie Guzman (Albuquerque Business First)
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