IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - Iowa City leaders have their eyes to the south.
On Tuesday night, the City Council approved the first reading of a new zoning scheme to guide roughly 900 acres of possible future development.
"It's a big leap forward. It's covering a lot of acreage," Councilmember John Thomas said. "There may be certain situations that need to be fine-tuned, but this is in itself a huge step forward."
The city wants to adopt a "form-based code" instead of a "use-based code." That means the city's future land use map will cover the size and shape of buildings, rather than their intended use. Councilors hope this gives them neighborhoods with a diverse array of housing options, easy access for walking and biking, and community main streets with shops and restaurants.
"In some ways, we're having to reinvent the wheel here. What does everybody love about the towns and cities of Europe? They're walkable, they have neighborhoods, they have community spaces," Councilor Janice Weiner said.
The Council is looking at land along McCollister Blvd. and Sycamore Street. The city spent 5 million dollars to connect the two roads in 2020.
This new code requires a scale of development intensity; going from T1 through T6. T1 is "natural", meaning a natural lake or prairie. T2 is rural, meaning farmland with houses interspersed. T3 is suburban, representing an average neighborhood. In T4 main street, buildings are allowed to take up a whole block, can be up to four stories tall, and they should include commercial spaces.
Instead of phrases like "multifamily residential" or "low-intensity development" on the district's land use map, each parcel will have a different T number.
"This is different for developers. What a lot of them are really good at is developing single-family homes," Councilor Susan Mims said. "I would urge us to consider a program to help them (developers) with design."
The council passed a resolution to amend the South District Plan, and passed first consideration for the actual change to their zoning code. The latter will take two more votes.