RP’s zoning ‘streamlined’ by planners, city hall duo
New zoning code revisions to become official following July 9 city council meeting
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By Jud Snyder  July 5, 2013 12:00 am

Rohnert Park’s Planning Commission has held two public meetings and approved a program designed to “streamline” aspects of the city’s zoning code rules. It went to the city council for further approval. The council easily OKd it except for one minor change and will formally initial it at their July 9 meeting.

The revisions were handled by Marilyn Ponton, development services manager, with the help of consultant and technical advisor Norm Weisbrod.

They discovered a nest of mostly obsolete zoning rules applied to approving a new business, expanding or relocating an existing business that “will be simplified.” Instead of requiring a conditional use permit, the use will be permitted or approved “in house” in city hall planning offices.

This revised process will save new businesses a $1,000 deposit fee and reduce the time to process approvals. “Simplifying the approval process indicates to the business owner of a new or existing business that Rohnert Park is encouraging new businesses to locate in the city or existing businesses to expand or relocate to a larger facility,” said Ponton.

She also noted, “this accomplishes an important economic development goal by promoting Rohnert Park as a ‘business friendly’ city.”

Part of their program was to prepare a negative declaration to comply with state CEQA regulations. This was accomplished because “almost all of the uses proposed to be changed would be occupying existing space within a commercial or industrial building are already exempt from CEQA rules.”

The only fiscal impact of the streamlined rules would be savings to a business owner wanting to move to RP or expanding or relocating within the city.

In her summary, Ponton said these revised zoning ordinance is in Chapter 17 of the city’s Municipal Code. 

“From past experiences, certain business uses are compatible with neighboring uses and have little or no impact on the surrounding area of uses,” she added. “For example, single use businesses like martial arts or dance studios, there’s really no reason for them to go to the planning commission for a use permit.

“Listing these uses as permitted uses or subject to administrative review will result in a shorter review process for the business proponent and a lesser fee for the business owner and less time spent on opening the business.”

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