HUDSON — The list of proposed changes to the city’s zoning code that planning commission will review is expected to become much shorter.
At their workshop on Tuesday night, City Council members agreed with Council President Bill Wooldredge’s (At Large) recommendation to take "the [potential] commercial and residential [Land Development Code] changes completely off the table and not [have them] considered in this update."
Wooldredge suggested that the planning commission "focus only on the administrative recommendations that would help streamline the process."
Mayor David Basil concurred, and suggested council vote on a motion at its next meeting on Oct. 16 to amend its referral of the proposed LDC changes to the planning commission.
Council member Dennis Hanink (Ward 1) said he supported the idea, but that Council needs to be clear as to what proposed changes it still wants the planning commission to review. The commission has already discussed many of the proposed administrative changes at its Sept. 24 and Oct. 8 meetings.
City Manager Jane Howington, who was in attendance at the workshop, did not offer any comments in the meeting, nor did she return a call seeking comment by press time.
Council member Dr. J. Daniel Williams (At Large) said he thought it was a good idea to hold off on dealing with the proposed changes to residential and commercial zoning until Downtown Phase II and other major projects were finished.
"We have so many things on our plate," said Williams. "I think it would make a lot of sense to take a step back and take the two aspects — the commercial and the residential — and not do anything with them right now."
Council member Alex Kelemen (Ward 3) emphasized that city staff have put a lot of work into the proposals. He suggested that now is a good time to assess the process that occurred in creating the many proposed amendments to the LDC.
"There were some assumptions going forward in that Land Development Code, a lot of which may have come out of the Comprehensive Plan, that maybe everyone didn’t buy into," said Kelemen, who added he wanted to "check out some of the assumptions that we were talking about that went into it from the standpoint of staff while it’s still fresh in everybody’s mind."
Kelemen said council could also ask for more public feedback.
"The people said they want to be heard," said Kelemen, in a reference to multiple comments made by residents at the Oct. 2 council meeting. "Let’s hear it. What parts scared you about it? What did you hear? What part was real? What part was rumor?"
He added he felt Council could use the situation as "an opportunity for some better dialogue within the city and not just stick it up on the shelf."
Council member Beth Bigham (Ward 4) said the proposed changes to the LDC were "very controversial," and added she felt it "was a good idea to put it on the shelf for a while and re-think it."
About 60 residents attended the planning commission meeting on Aug. 20, and none of the 20 people who spoke did so in favor of the proposed revisions. Residents said they were concerned that the proposals would increase density, allow builders to have greater freedom in the types of structures and aesthetics they can employ and hurt the character of the city.
At the council meeting on Oct. 2, many voiced their opposition to a variety of subjects, including the proposed LDC changes, Downtown Phase II, extending Velocity Broadband to residents and a solar panel project.
Robert Kagler, who chairs the planning commission, has said that once the commission is finished with its review of the administrative revisions, legislation would be sent to Council for its review and approval.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.