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City’s new zoning ordinance now in effect

Posted: March 6, 2015 1:23 p.m.
Updated: March 9, 2015 1:00 a.m.

The city of Camden now has a new zoning ordinance.

After more than two years, 26 meetings, and countless hours of scrutiny, discussion, revision, and due diligence on the part of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Camden City Council unanimously approved second reading and final approval of the ordinance during its Feb. 24 meeting.

While most people probably will not notice many of the changes in the ordinance itself, they probably will see some of the results out in the community. Nonetheless, two major goals of the re-boot were to make the ordinance easier to understand and easier for the public to use, City Planner Shawn Putnam said.

“A lot of it was just clean up and reorganization of what we had, but we also added some elements as well,” Putnam said.

For example, one major addition is a new design standards section, which brings all requirements for such subjects as exterior materials, paint and roof colors, etc., into one section; these elements are also organized on a table, he said.

“The previous ordinance had those elements spread throughout the entire zoning ordinance,” Putnam said.

 Some new standards have also been added, including an overlay district in downtown Camden. That district covers Broad Street between DeKalb Street and Arthur Lane. 

The standards in the overlay district are based on a Form-based zoning code, which focuses more on the form and design of buildings, as opposed to Euclidian-based zoning, which focuses on land use and which is the overall method of zoning underpinning the entire ordinance.

Another change is requirements for landscaping, tree protection, open space, etc., are now administered by the city’s urban forester rather than the planning administrator, Putnam said.

Also new in the ordinance are some new stormwater management guidelines. The guidelines are based on a concept known as Low Impact Design (LID). The idea is to design stormwater infrastructure so that it utilizes more natural features rather than funneling runoff into a pipe, Putnam said. For example, instead of building a stormwater retention pond a developer might put in swales or storm gardens, he said.

“The advantage is that when you use these techniques, it actually leaves more land available for development -- you’re not having to use as much land and the infrastructure costs less. It’s a lot better for the environment because you’re getting the water to naturally recharge the groundwater.”

The new ordinance should soon be accessible on the city’s website at www.cityofcamden.org.

(Note: Camden City Council will not meet in work session or regular session Tuesday. Council will meet again March 24.)

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