Wed 2/4 12:30 pm Municipal Council Hearing & Final Vote to Adopt Zoning

Over the last 2 years, hundreds of Newarkers have been involved in the massive effort to overhaul Newark’s zoning for the first time since the 1950s: hosting and attending Newark Zoning Workshops, providing comments on draft zoning, and participating in other ways to make the proposed zoning & land use regulations best reflect the city that Newarkers want.

UPDATE! NZLUR was adopted by the Newark Municipal Council on 2/4/15.

Next Wednesday, February 4, at 12:30 pm, the Municipal Council is scheduled to hold the 2nd reading & final vote on adopting the results of these labors: the Newark Zoning & Land Use Regulations, or NZLUR (pronounced NUZZ-LER).

While the meeting falls mid-day, all interested in ensuring a positive outcome are encouraged to attend & provide testimony.

Newark Zoning & Land Use Regulations Council Hearing & Final Vote
Wednesday February 4, 12:30 pm
Newark City Hall Council Chambers
920 Broad Street 2nd floor

Newark Zoning & Land Use Requlations (NZLUR) Quick Facts

NZLUR contains rules governing the uses and design of buildings in Newark as well as regulations for many other parts of Newark’s built environment such as landscaping, parking lots, fences, signs, and storm water management. Newark’s zoning has not been comprehensively revised since the 1950s, but many things have changed in the past 60 years. NZLUR simplifies and modernizes the way Newark’s zoning deals with the uses of buildings. It eliminates out-of-date uses like leather tanneries and pool halls and consolidates many others based on what Newark residents and businesspeople have said creates development conflicts. NZLUR also proposes common-sense standards for how new buildings will be designed. These ideas grow from the successful 2009 “Box & Beyond” implementation of zoning reforms for Newark’s most common building types, two- and three-family houses, which focused on improving the quality and safety of Newark’s streets by setting standards for windows, front set-backs, and the location of primary entrances that keep eyes on the street.

Process overview

In February 2013, the Newark Planning Office began to overhaul the Newark Zoning & Land Use Regulations (NZLUR), the rules for what you can build & where you can build it in Newark. After 19 months of public meetings in neighborhoods across Newark, four public drafts, & hundreds of public comments & suggestions, the proposed NZLUR is under consideration for final approval by the Newark Municipal Council.

The majority of the work on the NZLUR was completed by in-house staff (Damon Rich, Michele Alonso & Perris Straughter) with long-term experience in & commitment to Newark, with help from Paul Grygiel & Liz Leheny from PPG on code-writing & Zenon Tech-Czarny & Rob Freudenberg from the Regional Planning Assoication (RPA) on maps & diagrams. The primary author was supported by the team above & outstanding City staff Natalia O’Neill Vega, Jennifer Lee, N’Dela Costley, Margaret Roberts, Dawn Egerton, Elouis Woodard, Kevlin Taylor, Loretta Brown, Walford Ennis, Wanda Broxton & Ade Afolabi.

Process to Date
2/5/13 Zoning Workshop (Historic Weequahic Neighborhood Association)
2/21/13 Zoning Workshop (Clinton Hill Block Association)
2/28/13 Zoning Workshop (Heart of Vailsburg Block Club Association)
4/22/13 Zoning Workshop (Lower Broadway Neighborhood Association)
6/5/13 Zoning Workshop (Forest Hill Neighborhood Association)
8/5/13 Zoning Workshop (United Parks as One / Friends of Mildred Helms Park)
10/21/13 Draft 1 released
1/15/14 Newark Zoning Info Session (City Hall)
1/23/14 Newark Zoning Info Session (City Hall)
1/29/14 Zoning Workshop (Ironbound Community Corporation)
1/30/14 Draft 1 public comment deadline
4/2/14 Zoning Workshop (Tri-City People’s Corporation)
6/26/14 Draft 2 released
8/29/14 Draft 3 released
9/8/14 Central Planning Board Public Hearing
11/8/14 Zoning Workshop (Growing Leadership, Building Community: Local Resident Leadership Development Training organized by Greater Newark LISC)
11/18/14 Draft 4 released
11/19/14 Zoning Workshop (Ken Gibson-Sharpe James Recreation Center)
12/9/14 NZLUR approved by Municipal Council on Communications
1/21/15 NZLUR approved by Municipal Council on First Reading
2/4/15 NZLUR scheduled for Municipal Council Second Reading & Final Vote!

How will the NZLUR benefit Newark’s constituencies?

For Developers, the NZLUR modernizes and consolidates the procedures and regulations for the previously separated land use procedures (Title 37), subdivision/site plan ordinance (Title 38), and zoning regulations (Title 40) into one document. Creating a consolidated zoning code will improve predictability and clarity in the development of projects, a major concern that developers have often raised regarding the existing zoning code.

For Residents & Homeowners, the NZLUR provides common-sense rules for building quality neighborhoods, including housing and site design. For example, excessively tall fencing and blank walls are not permitted in residential districts in order to preserve a secure-feeling and welcoming environment. The use and design controls of the NZLUR respects and preserves the current fabric of Newark’s neighborhoods and guides new development to fit harmoniously with existing buildings and landscapes. Finally, the NZLUR is more understandable and user-friendly than previous regulations, with color maps and illustrated bulk and design standards.

For Community-Based Organizations, the NZLUR include provisions for community uses previously omitted including urban agriculture and community gardens.

For Businesses, the NZLUR recalibrates use, design, and density requirements to strengthen Newark’s commercial districts.

Why is it urgent to adopt NZLUR?

+ Current zoning has not been overhauled since 1957 and uses maps from 1930s. Developments that benefit communities often require variances, while unwanted uses are permitted. Overall, current zoning does not reflect the desires of Newark residents for their neighborhoods and city. For years, groups like the Master Plan Working Group and others have advocated and organized for new zoning.
+ Outdated regulations impede positive developments across Newark.
+ Outdated regulations create unnecessary confusion about development for developers & residents.
+ Outdated regulations permit & encourage inappropriate development: houses in industrial areas, towers in low-rise neighborhoods & environmentally unjust infrastructure.

What does NZLUR do?

+ NZLUR increased the number of zoning districts from 12 to 19 to provide each neighborhood a custom fit
+ Adjusts regulations in response to articulated community agendas: for example, to prevent undesirable teardowns of historic homes in Clinton Hill and to control difficult-to-accommodate multifamily conversions in Roseville & Forest Hill, and set a four-story height for large portions of the Ironbound.
+ Adds tailored special use zones for areas of the city occupied by major hospitals and airport support functions.
+ Restores dedicated residential zoning to area like 11th, 12th & 13th Avenues.
+ Creates new buffer zone between to protect Ironbound residences from noxious industrial uses.
+ Provides updated & clearer definitions for building uses. For example, “Eating and Drinking Establishments” are now distinguished between “Sit-Down” and “Take-Out” so residents & developers have clearer expectations of development. Also provides more detail and categorization for industrial uses to clearly identify uses associated with resident health concerns.
+ Provides modernized parking requirements, no longer one-size-fits-all. Commercial parking regulations have been refined according to actual needs.
+ We have increased and modernized the conditional use list of uses that have higher standards to meet, often uses that seen by some as nuisances such as a truck wash or body art studio.
+ Updates development fees so developers cover a fairer share of the costs of development review, the first update since 1996.
+ Creates heightened noticing requirements for development applications to better inform the public. For example, a simple notice of development application will be posted at proposed development sites, and applicants will no longer be able to carry applications for long periods without having to renotice property owners.
+ Provides more common-sense guidance on building design based on building types, along with illustrated design standards.
+ Uses “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design” strategies such as minimum street-facing windows on new buildings and controls for transparency and visibility for front-yard fences.
+ Increases minimum required landscaping for parking lots & industrial sites.
+ Creates limits on impervious coverage for all building types to lessen combined sewer overflows.
+ Specifically permits desirable uses such as community gardens & urban agriculture.
+ Add standards for solar and wind power which did not exist before.
+ Creates new design standards for streets & sidewalks to improve pedestrian safety & experience.

NZLUR goals

Beginning from discussions with developers, community-based organizations & residents; analysis of existing zoning & development laws; over a dozen Newark Zoning Workshops; & the 2012 master plan revision process, the Newark Planning Office formulated the following goals for revising Newark’s zoning & land use regulations:

1. Improve Zoning for Use

    1-a. Prevent nuisances, improve quality of life & increase environmental justice
    1-a-1. Update zoning map to conform with 2012 master plan
    1-a-2. End “cumulative zoning” and confusing zone names. For example, the current First Industrial District includes many residential areas while the new proposed Light Industrial District does not permit residential development.
    1-a-3. Clarify manufacturing and industrial definitions for potentially noxious uses.

    1-b. Modernize & consolidate use list
    1-b-1. Eliminate outdated uses such as leather tanneries and pool halls
    1-b-2. Incorporate contemporary uses including urban agriculture and upcycling

    1-c. Easier to use, easier to administrate
    1-c-1. Zoning maps produced digitally and in color
    1-c-2. Creation of Use Categories Finding Aid
    1-c-3. Use definitions tied to State & Federal standards when possible

2. Improve Zoning for Design

    2-a. Leverage Newark’s competitive advantage as a walkable city
    2-a-1. Build on “Box & Beyond” reforms to expand how zoning addresses building design.
    2-a-2. Promote in-fill and buildings that contribute to the public realm .
    2-a-3. Incorporate Complete Streets to make Newark’s public spaces welcoming for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles.

    2-b. Contextual & building type specific
    2-b-1. Introduce modified “form-based zoning.”
    2-b-2. More predictable development rules for developers and residents.

    2-c. Easier to use, easier to administrate
    2-c-1. Illustrated Design Standards.

3. Improve Zoning for Sustainability

    3-a. Maximum percentage of impervious cover to better control storm water and prevent combined sewer overflows.
    3-b. Clarify manufacturing and industrial definitions for potentially noxious uses.
    3-c. Include community gardens and other urban agriculture uses.
    3-d. Accommodate solar and wind energy.

On-line Resources

For more information, click on any of the following links:

General background

City Hall Zoning Info Sessions prestation, 1/23/14

First public draft public comments & responses, 6/25/14

Third public draft Central Planning Board report with public comments & responses, 9/22/14

Newark Legistar link (online Municipal Council System)

Please note: NZLUR will appear on the Council Agenda with File #14-1941 and the following title:

ORDINANCE REPEALING TITLE 40 OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE OF
THE CITY OF NEWARK (ZONING ORDINANCE), TITLE 37 OF THE
MUNICIPAL CODE OF THE CITY OF NEWARK (LAND USE
PROCEDURES), AND TITLE 38 OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE OF THE
CITY OF NEWARK (SUBDIVISION/SITE PLAN ORDINANCE) AND
ADOPTING TITLE 41 (NEWARK ZONING & LAND USE
REGULATIONS) WITHIN THE NEWARK MUNICIPAL CODE

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