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Public invited to comment on zoning plan

Joint statement as issued Tuesday by Fort Wayne and Allen County officials:

Fort Wayne, Ind. – As part of the effort to streamline local governments’ land-use permitting processes, the public is invited to learn about and comment on proposed changes to planning and zoning regulations. The goal of the potential changes is to improve, streamline, simplify and clarify the steps residents and business leaders take to develop new or improve existing buildings and homes.

On Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. in Room 035 of Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St., project consultant Clarion Associates will present proposed zoning ordinance modifications and ask residents to provide feedback. Drafts of the proposed new zoning ordinances are available online at http://www.allencounty.us/land-use/dps.

During this phase of the updates to local regulations, the following will be considered:

• Changes to Agricultural and Residential zoning districts (permitted uses and development standards);

• Changes to Development processes (the ways in which developers of large projects apply for and receive permits, and when there are public hearings on the projects); and

• Changes to Administration (how staff and public bodies such as Planning Commissions and Zoning Boards complete their work).

“It’s important for citizens to learn about and comment on the proposed changes, because the changes will have a direct impact on how people build on or alter their properties,” said Kim Bowman, executive director of the Department of Planning Services. “We also want to ensure that new regulations are as clear and simple as possible so Allen County and Fort Wayne will continue to be known as a great place to live and do business.”

Examples of regulations that could change include: residential property setbacks (how close residents can build to the property line), what types of home businesses are allowed, and rules for building sheds and home additions.

The process to streamline land-use permitting began in March 2011 and is overseen by the Joint Permitting Oversight Board, whose members represent City and County government. During the first phase of the project, City and County general planning and zoning ordinances were aligned so they have similar sections – zoning districts, administration, enforcement and sign standards. In other words, the ordinances are now organized in the same way with the same titles and content in the same places.

The second and current phase of the project includes updating all of the content - eliminating out-of-date regulations and ensuring that the zoning ordinances include modern standards. The third phase will continue with overhauling content of the remaining parts of the ordinances. The entire project should be completed for the adoption phase to begin in mid-2013.

Anyone unable to make the public meeting on Jan. 30 may provide written comments to Senior Planner Patrick Fahey at patrickfahey@allencounty.us. Residents may also mail written comments to Fahey at the Department of Planning Services, 200 E. Berry St., Suite 150, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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