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Oct. 25 - Update on the Status of Re-Zoning for Commercial and Residential Property Inside and Outside the City Limits

SavannahBusinessJournal.com Staff Report

Oct. 25, 2013 – Confusion remains regarding efforts by the Metropolitan Planning Commission to effect new zoning for the City of Savannah that reflects modern urban planning.

In March 2007, the process began with the development of the Zoning Assessment Report. After the report was released in August 2007, MPC staff began drafting the text of new zoning ordinances, which was originally known as the Unified Zoning Ordinance (UZO).

In July 2013, after a year of public hearings, and a lot of political wrangling, it was decided that a unified document should not be pursued. This has resulted in the City of Savannah and Chatham County each developing new, separate zoning ordinances.

The City of Savannah has re-named its plan ‘The New Zoning Ordinances’ or the “NewZO” for short.  To help the public understand the latest drafts – both the language and maps – a new Web site was built at www.newzo.org.

There are several subcommittees of city employees, volunteers and political leaders involved on each.  The Technical Committee of the Unified Zoning Ordinance (UZO)  worked with MPC staff to draft the ordinance from March 2007 through February 2010.

The MPC Staff worked with the Advisory Committee on most of the first draft of the UZO from April - June of 2010, and then again for two meetings from April-May of 2011.

The first public draft was released on June 28, 2011 and included both the full draft of the proposed zoning ordinance as well as the proposed zoning map which shows the location of each of the new zoning districts. Draft 2 of the proposed UZO was released on July 10, 2012.

However, in the summer of 2013 the name of the process was then changed to NewZO (New Zoning Ordinances). The names of the zoning ordinances for Savannah and Chatham County will remain unchanged.

The timeline for reviewing the draft zoning ordinance and zoning map was extended by the Planning Commission indefinitely to allow more time for additional work, including responding to stakeholder comments.  As that process nears completion, a 60-day notice will be given to indicate that the public comment period is ending.

After the public comment period is completed, staff will amend the draft as necessary and then present the revised documents and maps to the Executive Committe (Planning Commission) for its review and recommendation to thee Governing Bodies (County Commission and City Council).

Once the Executive Committee presents its recommendation to the governing bodies, they will each hold public hearings and then make the final decision on the adoption of the new ordinances.

The second draft can be seen at the Web site, along with maps of the current zoning by street, versus what is being proposed.

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