CEDAR FALLS — Zoning changes in Cedar Falls are on their way.
Cedar Falls is beginning the process of producing a vision to update its zoning ordinance starting with its downtown corridor.
“What the city plans to do is hire a consultant because one of the concerns about downtown is that we have some outdated zoning and feel like we need to revisit the vision for downtown,” said Karen Howard, Planning and Community Services manager.
The city wants the public’s input on the downtown visioning process.
The city is considering a variety of different types of zoning, including form-based zoning. Form-based zoning is based on a regulating plan to establish a consistent vision for a district and promotes a building’s form over its function.
The goal of a form-based zoning code is to build a community based on a specific vision.
It will be a while before the code gets updated. There are several public meetings for each of the city’s corridors to be done before the council will vote on updates or changes.
“Downtown has changed and grown over time and we need to update the zoning to make sure we’re achieving a vision,” Howard said. “Then we need to figure out the kinds of tools that we can use to help achieve that vision.”
Downtown Cedar Falls and College Hill are square in the sites of Mayor Jim Brown for zoning changes.
The two districts are the most unique zoning areas in the city, Brown said. “We might even look at the University Avenue Corridor.”
The reasoning behind the changes is to provide more clarity about what coming development looks like, Brown said.
“So when developers and development comes, there’s more clarity,” Brown said.
Brown has tried to get more information into the council and planning and zoning commission members’ hands.
He’s distributed a book called “The Smart Growth Manual” to officials, staff and the Cedar Falls Public Library.
“It’s been a little frustrating because rezoning is new to me, and it’s new to most of the council. The last rezoning has been years and years ago,” Brown said. “So my goal has been to get ideas in front of them.”
“The Smart Growth Manual” has ideas Brown likes, and others he doesn’t care for, but it’s a place to start and get ideas, he said.
He’s also sent articles, podcasts, and research papers on rezoning in high-density areas to officials and council as well.
“I want to throw it all at the wall and give the ideas to council and see what sticks in the long term because it’s going to be an arduous process,” Brown said.
The City Council has reviewed several different types of zoning during presentations given by Howard.
The City Council hasn’t voted on any major changes to the zoning code yet.
Form-based zoning or a hybrid version of form-based could be a good fit for downtown Cedar Falls, Howard said.
“It is a type of zoning that could be a good tool to use,” Howard said.
The downtown parking study is part of the of the vision process. On Jan. 15 a consultant with the Wantman Group Inc. will give the final presentation on the study.
The changes being proposed are for downtown Cedar Falls only, though other parts of Cedar Falls will be approached in the future.
“I really do want to see a good look at downtown and on the Hill and probably the University Avenue Corridor,” Brown said. “We want to make the city is accommodating the folks that might be a little bit unique in these high-density areas.”