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OVERVIEW OF ZONING APPROACH:
Premiering Bettendorf, the city's adopted Comprehensive Plan identifies the need for a more flexible approach to land use planning and new development regulation than that provided by traditional zoning tools. Traditional zoning, often described as "single-use" zoning, generally assumes that different types of land uses need to be separated from each other because of differences in character, appearance, traffic, and operating characteristics. However, contemporary project design and development practices increasingly seek to mix compatible uses, creating more interesting, attractive, and walkable communities. The city's comprehensive plan proposes a more flexible land use approach, based on both use and intensity that both allows for mixing of compatible uses and greater flexibility. Applied to zoning, this approach is directly adaptable to newly developing areas and existing areas that may redevelop, but also has relevance to already developed parts of Bettendorf. In addition, its flexibility reduces the number of times the comprehensive plan must be amended to accommodate land use decisions and makes the plan itself a more relevant tool for guiding land use in the future.
As this Zoning Ordinance is being developed, the most prevalent alternative to traditional, single-use zoning is known as "form-based zoning." This regulatory approach, which was initiated by the New Urbanist movement in urban design, regulates according to the visual and development character of districts rather than by use. Some cities have adopted this approach for the entire community. However, many zoning practitioners feel that this zoning technique works best for newly developing areas, master planned communities, or redeveloping areas and that its highly design oriented approach can introduce its own inflexibilities. In many cases, people have come to rely on the separation of uses and protection from operating conflicts that single-use zoning, in theory if not always in practice, provides. Often, traditional single-use zoning works well as a maintenance tool for areas that were initially developed under such regulations, and indeed much of Bettendorf's growth has occurred under this kind of regulatory environment.
The comprehensive plan and this new zoning ordinance envision a "hybrid" approach that combines these two approaches and applies them where they are most appropriate. Most pre-existing developed areas maintain their familiar zoning designations and are governed by the traditional "zoning district" regulations set out in the ordinance. A new mixed-use approach may be applied to undeveloped growth areas and these future redevelopment areas.
Bettendorf can achieve the benefits of mixing land uses by adopting a flexible land use framework that allows for appropriate mixing of compatible uses. The land use framework recommended in Premiering Bettendorf establishes intensity-based "Development Character Areas" (DCAs) for different areas of the city, each with unique requirements for the following attributes:
o Types of allowable uses.
o Intensity, or density.
o Form, or design.
o Compatibility (transitions between uses).
The land use plan proposes urban DCA's in three intensity steps - low, medium, and high. The comprehensive plan and Chapter 9 of this zoning ordinance describe each DCA in terms of its purpose, form, uses, intensity, and compatibility requirements. The diagram below, called a land use transect, can help illustrate these intensity categories.
In the developed part of Bettendorf, a number of existing zoning districts produce the intensities, range of uses, and development character envisioned by each DCA. For example, low-intensity commercial (C1) and single-family residential (R-1) both fit into an Urban-Low Intensity category, even though their use is different. The DCA's can be used to describe much of Bettendorf's development, but some areas will probably always be used for a single-purpose. For example, large-scale commercial projects or heavy industries do not mix well with much residential development. In other cases, land should be maintained for these more intensive uses. The table below shows the future land use categories identified by the comprehensive plan and the existing zoning districts that they include. As stated above, the new zoning ordinance retains these zoning district classifications within the built-up DCA's identified by the comprehensive plan.
In newly developing or undeveloped areas, however, the DCA concept, providing both flexibility and design guidance, may be used as the base zoning district. Its guidelines on density, use intensity, scale, location, and treatment of boundary conditions where different uses meet will provide the flexibility and predictability that developers seek and the standards and protections that residents expect from land use regulations.
DEVELOPMENT CHARACTER AREA (DCA) AND APPLICABLE ZONING DISTRICTS:
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN/ FUTURE LAND USE MAP
Development Character Area (DCA)
Undeveloped/ Redevelopment Areas
Built Up/ Developed Areas
A-2, R-1, R-2, R-3, C-1
R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, R-5, C-1, C-2
R-3, R-4, R-5, C-1, C-2, C-3, I-1
R-5, C-1, C-2, C-3
R-5, C-1, C-2, C-3
I-1, I-2, I-3
I-1, I-2, I-3
C-3, C-6, C-7, I-1
C-3, C-6, C-7, I-1
Open Space and Parks
A-1, A-2, C-7
HOW TO USE THE ZONING CODE:
As mandated by Iowa Code Section 414.3, Bettendorf's adopted comprehensive plan, Premiering Bettendorf, provides guidance for the regulation of land use through zoning. Specifically, the plan's future land use map (Figure 1.4) indicates generalized land uses for all areas, developed or undeveloped, within the city limits. The generalized land use categories include the DCAs described above. The purpose, permitted uses, intensity, and form of each DCA is established in the comprehensive plan, and compatibility issues are identified.
The comprehensive plan also describes the components of mixed-use neighborhoods and how the DCAs can be used to encourage this approach to development. Comprehensive plan Figure 1.5, Commercial Areas, identifies existing and emerging commercial and employment nodes in the city. These commercial areas are also shown on the future land use map as either community commercial or neighborhood commercial areas. For the undeveloped growth areas of Bettendorf, these commercial nodes will be the "centers" of future mixed-use neighborhoods.
There are two areas of the community where the land use map indicates application of DCA designation. The DCA designation as a zoning category will largely apply to undeveloped growth areas. The DCA designation may also be used in established areas where redevelopment is likely to occur or the redevelopment area is large enough to encourage a planned mixed-use development that emphasizes urban character and pedestrian scale. These areas will employ the procedural processes and review for compliance with the comprehensive plan and the zoning ordinance that are identified for DCA areas in this ordinance.
The Bettendorf zoning map also identifies areas where traditional, non-DCA zoning districts are applied. Virtually all of existing developed Bettendorf is zoned with traditional zoning districts, and the new zoning code has not significantly altered the previous code's zoning district regulations. For these traditionally-zoned areas, sections of the zoning code identified as "applicable to all" or "non-DCA zoning district" are applicable.
However, aspects of the DCA review process will also help guide the comprehensive plan compliance review of development and rezoning applications in traditional zoning districts within the established city. This review is based on three very important issues:
o Compliance with the land use plan. For comprehensive plan compliance, the proposed zoning category should be one of those included within the group of districts included within the applicable comprehensive plan land use category, including DCA's.
o Compliance with locational standards. This addresses where the project is located. The ordinance includes guidance for the location of different uses such as types of streets, infrastructure service, and scale and type of surrounding development and uses.
o Compliance with transitional standards. This considers how the application addresses boundaries with other development. If uses are different, the ordinance provides standards that reduce land use, scale, and operating conflicts.
Figure 1 on the following page is a simplified chart describing the DCA and traditional zoning district processes for determining whether a development project meets the requirements of the zoning ordinance. Chapter 15, Administration and Enforcement, provides more details on both of these processes.
Figure 1. Finding of Compliance with Zoning Ordinance Requirements