Zoning and zoning change requests have been in the news lately – whether it be relating to housing development, commercial building or even the keeping of chickens.
City planners see this as signs of growth but the idea of zoning may not have much meaning for most citizens unless they are active developers.
It probably would not come as a surprise that most of the developed land in the city is for residential use. The key word is “developed,” however, because New Albany actually has more land that is zoned as agricultural than for any other use.
The last revision of the city’s comprehensive plan says that (as of 2009) 42.8 percent of the land in the city was zoned agricultural. That’s more than 5,000 acres.
Of the “developed” land, 68.1 percent was residential and three quarters of the residences in the city were still single-family dwellings.
Although a large part of the city is zoned agricultural, the plan points out, that land is mostly just vacant rather than seeing active agricultural production or use of any sort.
This is the land where most future development will have to occur.
Land is considered agricultural, residential, commercial or industrial for zoning purposes.
The agricultural areas are mostly near the edge of the city limits, although some park areas are included.
Residential is almost everywhere, although concentrated north and south of the downtown area plus newer sections east of town, in the Glenfield area and, more recently, the area behind Wal-Mart.
One type of commercial is the historic downtown district while the largest part can be seen along major streets and highways around town. There are also specialized commercial zones for businesses only serving a limited neighborhood or offering professional services.
Industrial zones tend to be clustered together also, mostly in the park in the Denmill Road area and the Glenfield Industrial Park.
Some commercial land that has fallen into disuse in the downtown area as businesses moved out to the highways is being revitalized while the agricultural land is being used for commercial and multi-family residential purposes. Some industrial areas have also fallen into disuse because they were clustered along rail lines before trucking became more prevalent as a means to serve industry. The Martintown Industrial Park and Wal-Mart Distribution Center are examples of industry tied more to highways than rail lines.
One factor that has affected development is the revised 100-year flood plain area, which encompasses a lot of land near the Tallahatchie River and larger creeks.
Because of the frequency of updates, the reliable way to tell what any land in the city is zoned is to look at the map in the office of Building Inspector and Zoning Administrator Mike Armstrong in City Hall.
Although there are rare exceptions or loopholes, most zoning categories have primary allowed uses and conditionally permitted uses, which require specific approval.
A request for a change of zoning must be made to the city’s planning and zoning commission, which usually meets on the first Monday of the month. If the members agree the change is justified, they may grant it, but the New Albany Board of Aldermen can overrule the planning and zoning board.
Notice of a proposed zoning change must be posted 30 days in advance with signs at the location and a public hearing is held before the aldermen where anyone may speak in favor of or opposition to the change.
In extreme cases, a property owner may appeal the city’s ruling to a county court.
Here is a list of the categories and what can go in them:
A-1 Agricultural: single-family dwellings and farm buildings and structures, agriculture and forestry, sale of products raised, produced and processed on the premises, nurseries and greenhouse, golf courses and country clubs, churches and cemeteries. Conditionally permitted: mobile home parks, airports, rest and nursing homes, buildings of non-profit community organizations and social welfare establishments other than those providing living space
R-1 Single Family Residential: single-family dwellings, places of worship, public parks, playgrounds and community centers, golf or country clubs, schools or academic instruction facilities. Conditionally permitted: home occupations and nursery schools or kindergartens.
R-2 One- and Two-Family Residential: Anything permitted in R-1. Conditionally permitted: Anything conditionally permitted in R-1 plus two-family dwellings. This is partly to allow older single homes to be converted for two-family use.
R-3 General Residential: Anything from R-2, multi-family dwellings, rooming houses or group dwellings, home occupations. Conditionally permitted: Anything conditionally permitted in R-2, mobile home parks, nursing or convalescent homes, private clubs or lodges and hospitals, professional offices including doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects and similar professions that generate a minimum amount of traffic.
R-4 Manufactured Housing Residential: Anything from R-2 except that a single-family dwelling meeting R-2 standards could be manufactured housing. Conditionally permitted: Anything conditionally permitted from R-2 but not by means of manufactured housing.
C-1 Central Commercial: Retail and service establishments, general and professional offices, financial institutions, newspaper offices, parking lots, clinics for people, hotels and motels, eating and drinking places, private clubs and lodges, public buildings and grounds. Conditionally permitted: gas and service stations, auto and implement dealers, single- and multi-family residential done through remodeling and renovation of existing buildings (only on upper floors).
C-2 General Commercial: Anything from C-1, auto and truck repairs, truck and shipping lines, radio and TV stations, drive-in theatres and restaurants, entertainment and recreational facilities, motels, tourist cabins and courts, animal clinics, funeral homes, dry cleaning and laundries, wholesale stores not operated primarily as warehouses, combination display stores, offices, warehouses and fabrication shops, gasoline service stations, hospitals. Conditionally permitted: Warehouses and distribution facilities, single- and multi-family dwellings done through remodeling and renovation of existing buildings, sexually oriented businesses.
C-3 Neighborhood Convenience: Limited size grocery and convenience stores, drugstores, barbershops, beauty shops, medical and dental clinics, self-service laundries and laundry pick-up stations, hardware stores, shoe repair shops, bakeries, branch banks, professional offices. Conditionally permitted: Other light retail and service uses that serve only the surrounding area.
C-4 Neighborhood Professional: Employing 10 or fewer and with limited traffic, including professional offices, business offices, general offices, doctors, dental or other health care clinics. Conditionally permitted: Other service uses serving on the surrounding neighborhood.
I-1 Industrial: Anything from C-2, commercial or industrial uses that don’t fit in less restrictive districts, agricultural, industrial, manufacturing or processing, operation of a sexually oriented business. They must meet standards concerning safety, appearance, public health and nuisance restrictions.
I-2 Heavy Industrial: particularly large industries that may impact the community and all require special permission from the city board.