Central approves new zoning map, amends zoning code

Central has a slightly new look, or at least the map that charts its future does.

The Central City Council on Tuesday approved a new zoning map that outlines how the city should develop into the future.

Councilmen Ralph Washington, Aaron Moak, Louis DeJohn and Wayne Messina voted for the new map with Tony LoBue voting against it.

In many ways, the new zoning map is similar to the old one with commercial enterprises concentrated along main thoroughfares and intersections, and with residential properties getting less dense the farther they are from the center of the city.

“This is the almost final part of what we’ve been working on for seven years,” David Barrow, chief administration officer for Central, said before the meeting.

The city started with planning the city-parish had done for the area before Central incorporated in 2005 and then moved on to develop its own master plan approved in 2010. The City Council approved the zoning ordinance in November and this map helps reflect what was included in that action, Barrow said.

“When you look at the zoning map, it’s fairly consistent with the master plan we’ve been using since 2010,” Barrow said. “We want to prevent urban sprawl.”

Some people expressed concern Tuesday night of possible confusion about whether rezoning means people will have to change what they may be using their property for.

However, Barrow said the new zoning map will mean very little change for people already living or running a business in the city because even if an area is rezoned, the current use can remain.

For example, if an area is classified as rural but the landowner is running a business from the location, that business can keep on operating as a legal, nonconforming use, Barrow said.

The map has been the subject of multiple workshops and public meetings and it appears most people are comfortable with it, DeJohn said.

In another — but this time unanimous — vote, the City Council approved an amendment to the Comprehensive Zoning Code passed by the council in November. The amendment reduces the minimum acreage for a rural lot from three acres to one acre.

The exceptions to this are any areas listed as conservation, green space or incentive green space in the 2010 Land Use Plan.

A number of speakers, however, said one-acre lots for rural areas are too small and might keep Central from retaining its rural character.

Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.