Panel might create zone of its own for CSJBy Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | December 07,2013City officials will consider giving the College of St. Joseph its own zoning district.
The college is in a single-family residential zone, but the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Wednesday will include a discussion of creating an “educational park district.”
“It should have been changed some time ago,” Planning Commission Chairman Jack Facey said Friday.
Facey said the existing zoning ordinance has no such district, so the city will have to create a new category. The Planning Commission would make a proposal to send to the Board of Aldermen, which would then approve or reject the change to the ordinance, most likely after a discussion in the Charter and Ordinance Committee.
Facey said there would be at least one public hearing conducted by each body. He said he did not know if the commission would emerge from the meeting next week with a recommendation.
“When we’ve talked about it informally, all the Planning Commission members seemed to think it was the right thing to do,” he said. “I don’t know what will come up in the discussion.”
While the plan is to only apply the new regulations to the college’s property, Facey said he did not consider the proposal to be spot zoning.
“You’re talking about a 150-acre parcel that’s been used for a school for decades,” he said. “I know (spot zoning) when I see it. This is not it. If you have one parcel surrounded by other parcels the same size ... that’s spot zoning. This is a whole area that’s been used for education for 50 years. That’s not spot zoning.”
Facey said the city underwent a similar process for the grounds of Rutland Regional Medical Center.
“Let’s call it what it is,” he said.
CSJ spokesman James Lambert said the college had advocated for the change but did not believe it had made direct input regarding what form the new zone would take.
“It’s not anything specific — just getting the zoning to more accurately reflect what the college is,” he said.
Lambert said he was not aware of any zoning issues with recent or planned construction projects at the college — or, for that matter, of the college having any recent or planned construction projects.
“I think the last thing that was built was Tuttle Hall,” he said. “I think that was around the late ‘90s, 2000. There’s nothing in the works.”
The city’s zoning ordinance was enacted in the decade previous to the founding of the college. Facey said he did not know how permitting processes for CSJ were handled in the past as any such efforts were before his time.
“Probably conditional-use permits, maybe a variance,” he said. “We don’t think that should have to happen.”
The commission meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
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