Kimberly Baptiste

Kimberly Baptiste of Bergmann Associates gives a presentation on the updated Auburn zoning code to the city council Thursday night. 

AUBURN — Members of the Auburn City Council hope to have a fully updated, easier to navigate city zoning code in place before the beginning of December. 

City staff has been working with Bergmann Associates to overhaul the city's outdated zoning code, which has not had a major update since 1991. During Thursday's Auburn City Council meeting, Kimberly Baptiste, a practice leader at Bergmann Associates, and city planning staff highlighted the major changes to the code in a presentation to the city council. 

Baptiste said the city's previous code was poorly organized and difficult to navigate. The new code has been condensed, from a dozen different articles down to eight, and has been updated to conform with all the necessary laws, regulations and best practices. 

The code will feature easy-to-read tables that will allow people to find the regulations required for a specific type of property. 

"This is kind of a one-stop table to kind of get a picture of what is and isn't permitted in each of the zoning districts," Baptiste said.  

The updated code will be a hybrid mix of Euclidean, or traditional, and form-based zoning code. Most of the city will follow the traditional code, which separates land based on uses, such as residential and commercial. But downtown Auburn will follow the form-based code, Baptiste said, which focuses on the overall design, look, appearance and layout of a site. 

"Form-based zoning is less reliant on land use and more reliant on the physical character of a building or site," she said. "You care less about what's happening inside the building and you care more about how that building relates to the streetscape." 

The new code also features different zoning districts. Senior Planner Stephen Selvek said buildings that were under one district in the past and will now be in a new district with new regulations will not have to change to comply with the new code. They will be listed as a "preexisting nonconformity until the point that use is abandoned," Selvek said. 

Although a public hearing is not required to update the code, council members wanted the public to have the opportunity to voice their opinions of the code before the council votes to approve it on Nov. 16. 

"In the interest of fairness, I believe we should have a public hearing," Mayor Michael Quill said. 

Council members decided during the meeting to schedule a public hearing during the council meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday Nov. 2.

The city is updating its zoning code to better align with the city's Auburn Sparks Brownfield Opportunity Area program, which involves redeveloping downtown and the Owasco River corridor. The BOA program is nearing completion of its second of three phases.  

Staff writer Natalie Brophy can be reached at (315)282-2239 or natalie.brophy@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @brophy_natalie. 

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