GONZALES — A proposed reworking of the zoning ordinance for Gonzales would add new zoning districts in an attempt to lure high-end apartments to the city.
But the proposed ordinance would not change how people are now using their property.
Janet Tharp, with the nonprofit Center for Planning Excellence in Baton Rouge, presented a draft of the proposed zoning ordinance at a public hearing Wednesday night at City Hall.
There will be more work on the proposal and more public hearings before it goes to the City Council for a vote, possibly in four to six months.
In August, the council approved a new comprehensive master plan for the city, developed by CPEX at a cost of $162,500.
In a separate project, the city will pay CPEX $60,000 to work on the city’s zoning codes to better reflect the new master plan.
“Right now, we’re really bringing them into line with each other,” said Tharp, associate planning director with CPEX.
Currently, zoning for apartments in Gonzales is set at 10 units per acre.
That zoning would remain, but under proposed changes the city would also have multi-family zoning available for up to 25 units per acre.
Officials have cited studies that indicate higher-density apartment zoning attracts high-quality developments with more amenities for renters.
Developers of high-density multifamily developments would be required to have a certain number of amenities such as a clubhouse, swimming pool, dog park, playground, splash park or walking path, Tharp said.
Such developments would also be required to offer several building standards like a dog wash station; exercise room; bike rental/storage/repair or a business center.
Another new residential zoning would be mixed-use and would combine residential and non-residential.
Other new additions proposed for the city’s zoning code include a conservation zoning for parks and open space and an agriculture zoning that would include a single family residence.
There’s also a new “main street” zoning proposed for retail and personal services, such as dry-cleaning.
The new master plan for Gonzales envisions bringing a downtown feel to the oldest part of Gonzales, along Burnside Avenue.
The proposed changes to the zoning ordinance would also make it more “user-friendly,” said Tharp, with clear language and charts to help residents and business owners.
“I think it’s great so far,” John Lanoux, a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, said of the early draft.
A rewrite of the zoning ordinance is “sorely needed,” said City Clerk Clay Stafford.
“We’re off to a good start,” he said.