Champaign council gives initial OK to neighborhood zoning changes

Champaign council gives initial OK to neighborhood zoning changes

CHAMPAIGN — Changes to building design and development standards in neighborhoods immediately west and south of downtown were introduced Tuesday in an effort to maintain the districts' architectural style.

The proposed changes, to which the Champaign City Council gave initial approval Tuesday night, come after residents raised concerns over three apartment complexes in historic neighborhoods.

Those recently constructed developments are at 213 W. Green St. next to the Champaign Public Library; 408 S. Prairie St. near Edison Middle School; and 509 S. Elm St. near Springfield Avenue.

Residents said they are too large for being so close to their homes, or designed inconsistently for the neighborhood.

Rob Kowalski, assistant planning and development director with the city, said the recommended changes were formulated after meeting with working groups of residents, architects and developers.

The five zoning districts span an area roughly from Columbia Street on the north to John Street on the south and Randolph Street on the east to Prospect Avenue on the west, as well as an area extending south along Randolph, State and Prairie streets to Avondale Avenue. A map is at right.

Among the changes is requiring that a building's footprint be a certain size so a small lot isn't being stuffed with a big building or an inconsistently big building being put on a large lot. Kowalski said the footprint accounts for a building's perimeter, including any attached garage.

Also included in the changes is renaming two of the five zoning districts to reduce confusion and requiring that new developments follow certain external design requirements. Those include not allowing motel-style balconies and requiring that building materials be true brick, stone, wood or fiber cement.

Some members of the working group of residents said the changes are generally good but could be tweaked. There was concern that the zoning regulations weren't being changed enough.

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