It’s been nearly 40 years since Spring Lake Park last updated its zoning codes.
As the economy perks up and there’s more interest in redevelopment, including possible apartment construction, city leaders are now revising and modernizing the code that governs what can be built where and how it should look.
“We know the economy is improving. We wanted to get on this before we have applications and don’t have the development tools to address them,” said City Administrator Dan Buchholtz. “We are looking at everything in the code book from design standards to signage.”
The current code was written in 1976. It’s not equipped to guide 21st century development and technological advances, Buchholtz said.
“It’s also really subjective. We want the code to be more objective so there is a sense of fairness for the property owners,” Buchholtz said.
The city has spent $15,000 on an outside consultant to help with the process. The goal is to hold a public meeting this fall to roll out a draft version of the code rewrite.
In the meantime, the City Council has authorized a one-year moratorium on the development of vacant land or redevelopment of land within the commercial and industrial zoned properties. That expires in January 2016.
Buchholtz said the timing was right because it’s not disrupting any known project in the works. But the city anticipates that development applications could start rolling in 2016.
“We’ve heard some inklings of redevelopment. There is a lot of interest in multifamily housing. That is something we are looking at in the code,” Buchholtz said.
There are apartment projects now being built in both neighboring Blaine and Fridley.
Other cities are embarking on similar code cleanups.
In Hennepin County, the city of Crystal is creating a task force to review all city code containing regulations for municipal operations and administration, building, planning and land use regulations, public health, public utilities and streets, public safety as well as business and trade regulations and licensing such as liquor licenses.
“We have three inches of code. We have more lines of code than we have citizens,” said Crystal Mayor Jim Adams.
The goal is to eliminate the outdated rules and better enforce the ones the city chooses to keep.