Cape's new zoning code gets unanimous vote from P&Z commission

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The overhaul of Cape Girardeau's zoning code moved one step closer to completion Wednesday with an unanimous vote from the Planning & Zoning Commission.

In a brief special meeting, the commission also approved final changes designed to meet concerns raised in two public meetings earlier this month. Those amendments included allowing bars in the new neighborhood commercial district rules. It also includes a clearer definition of how many people can share a rental unit in designated areas.

The new zoning code now goes to the city council, which will discuss it in a study session Monday and hold a public hearing on Feb. 15. The proposal represents the first complete overhaul of city zoning rules since 1967.

After the meeting, commission chairman Bill Hinckley praised the work done by staff in the 18 months since work began. He singled out planners Sarah Wallace and Martha Brown for their efforts.

The parties most interested in the changes have shown a cooperative instead of antagonistic attitude, and that has helped as well, Hinckley said. Now that the city has an up-to-date code, Hinckley said regular work will be needed to keep it working well.

"This is what is referred to as a living document," Hinckley said. "Every five years we ought to look at it and say, what are the issues."

One of the most prominent issues during the overhaul was how many unrelated people can share a rental apartment or house. Under the current code, the limit is five or seven, depending on the location. Under the proposal approved Wednesday, the limit in most single-family dwellings will be three.

The code also includes a new district designation, called increased occupancy, that would allow more. The limit in those areas would be one extra person for each two bedrooms, as long as there is off street parking for the extra tenant. In cases where there is an odd number of bedrooms, one extra person would be allowed. That means five people could share a three- or four-bedroom house or apartment in those districts.

And in areas zoned for multifamily dwellings, the limit would be two unrelated people per bedroom. That would mean up to six people in a three-bedroom apartment in those locations.

While the zoning code update is almost finished, the work is not yet complete. The city will be updating the subdivision code next, Wallace said, with the intent of transforming it into rules that will govern all new developments whether a property is divided into multiple parcels or not.

"There are a lot of discussions that have to happen yet," Wallace said.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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