Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Considers Zoning Changes ; Move to Protect City's Investment in Downtown

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Considers Zoning Changes ; Move to Protect City's Investment in Downtown

Article excerpt

Topeka's city government is considering changes to zoning rules for much of downtown to protect property values.

The city's downtown zoning rules are "not as up-to-date as they should be," planning director Bill Fiander said this past week.

The Topeka Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss and accept public input on the matter when it meets 6 p.m. Monday in the first- floor conference room at the city's Holliday Building, 620 S.E. Madison.

Planning commissioners make recommendations regarding planning and zoning matters to the city's governing body, which has final say on whether to adopt them. No action will be taken on the matter Monday.

Fiander said he hoped to put proposed downtown zoning changes before the planning commission late this year, then before the governing body early next year.

Fiander and Dan Warner, comprehensive planning manager for the city, talked in an interview Friday about what they hoped to accomplish.

Fiander said much of downtown currently has "C-5" zoning, the city's highest commercial zoning classification, while a handful of downtown-area properties have the newer "D-1" classification.

Warner stressed in a recent memorandum to planning commissioners that downtown is in the midst of a revitalization that has included about $5 million worth of investment by the city government and about $2 million of private investment to match the city funding.

Meanwhile, Warner noted that two parts of downtown this year have been designated as historic districts and added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The city has sought bids for a qualified consultant to write specific design guidelines for those districts, one of which encompasses about nine blocks and the other about two.

Fiander said the city should be able to implement rules protecting investment inside those districts from new construction that might drive down property values.

The roughly nine-block district is surrounded by about 27 blocks of downtown property, which aren't in the district and would continue to have C-5 zoning. …

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