A request to downzone 38 properties in the First Ward won the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Commission in a 9-0 vote Thursday night.
Christine Gardener filed the request on behalf of a group of property owners in the West Ash neighborhood and surrounding areas. The property owners hope downzoning will preserve the character of their neighborhood, which is made up of mostly small, single-family homes.
The commission recommended the Columbia City Council approve the request in April. If it does so, 33 properties will be rezoned from R-2, which allows duplexes, to R-1, which allows only single-family homes.
If the council approves the measure, four other parcels will be downzoned from R-MF, or multiple-family dwelling, to R-1, and one parcel will be downzoned from R-MF to R-2.
Gardener spoke on behalf of the group in favor of the request, and five others voiced support as well.
"I'm asking for a 'yes' recommendation for all of these (requests) tonight, and there's already a next project organizing," Gardener said. "Because we want to save our neighborhoods and we love our homes."
Resident Christiane Quinn, who has lived in her home on West Broadway for more than 20 years, said she enjoys her neighborhood and its history.
"Of course, I want to see houses around me and not apartments," Quinn said. "I want to see grass and not cars or parking lots. Tonight, I would like to ask this commission to accept, support and move forward with the rezoning request. There are plenty of spaces where developers can focus on."
About 15 other residents attended the meeting to show support for the downzoning request. No one spoke in opposition of the request at the meeting.
Commissioner Sara Loe expressed interest in creating a new zoning classification in the future that would allow property owners to build additional dwelling units, or ADUs, in R-1 zoned properties without approval from the commission.
"I'm just wondering, if there were a zoning classification that was sort of an R-1 modification that did allow ADUs," Loe asked, "is that something you may have considered as an alternative?"
Allowing ADUs would increase the population density allowed on R-1 zoned properties, but not as much as an R-2 classification. Gardener said she never opposed ADUs.
"We're not against a little more densification, except that you can hardly drive through there without being hit by a car now, and it's only going to get worse. And if you look at the map there is no place for the traffic to go," Gardener said.
For now, however, the group of property owners will move forward with their original downzoning request. The council may hear a first reading of the request as early as April 2 and hold the final vote on April 16.
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