At the May 12 City Commission, elected officials voted to schedule a public hearing on June 16 to take up the “Neighborhood Compatibility Ordinance.”
The ordinance proposes 34 new Zoning Code development standards designed to make new development more compatible with adjoining residential neighborhoods.
The 34 proposed development standards address 6 issue areas, including design standards for commercial signs on local roads, buffers for buildings greater than 2 stories, buffers for trash enclosures and loading zones, buffers for drive-throughs, lighting standards, and design standards for multi-family projects.
This project began when neighborhood groups expressed concerns about whether recent new development is compatible with adjacent residential neighborhoods. Based on these concerns, staff surveyed 14 cities to document the tools used in their zoning codes to guide the form of commercial and multi-family development adjacent to residential areas.
Staff, after taking into consideration issues unique to Tallahassee, presented the draft ordinance to neighborhood stakeholders. A total of 13 meetings were held with various neighborhood groups, including the Alliance of Tallahassee Neighborhoods, the Council of Neighborhood Associations, the Capital Area Neighborhood Network, the Frenchtown Citizen Advisory Council, and a group of leaders from Southside neighborhoods.
Staff also held 6 meetings with business stakeholders, including the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce, the Capital City Chamber of Commerce, the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and the local chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
At the conclusion of the neighborhood outreach, the draft ordinance included 35 development standards. At the conclusion of the subsequent business outreach, the draft ordinance had 34 new development standards. Consensus was reached among all community stakeholders on 97% of the content of the ordinance.
The single standard that did not have consensus is a requirement for a multi-family developer to meet with neighbors prior to filing a site plan application. Neighborhood stakeholders supported the requirement to facilitate early communication, but business stakeholders did not support it due to the increased time and cost that would be added to the permitting process. Given that there was no agreement on this issue, the proposed ordinance does not include the requirement for a neighborhood meeting for multifamily projects.
The Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Commission determined the proposed ordinance is consistent with the provisions of the Comprehensive Plan at its April 6, 2021 meeting.
The comparison of the proposed revisions are shown below.