It’s been 22 years since the city of Sedona last updated its Land Development Code. So to say it’s playing catch up may be a bit of an understatement.
The city hired the consulting firm of Clarion to update the LDC, which was last overhauled in 1995, seven years after incorporation. The LDC implements the Sedona Community Plan by creating the rules for development in the community, senior city planner Mike Raber said.
Matt Goble and Tareq Wafaie, of Clarion, led the conversation and explained what their company plans to do until the proposed completion next year. First and foremost they want to simplify the existing document and make it more user friendly. They will do this by reducing the number of pages and using more graphics and charts and less legal terminology.
The city and Clarion kicked off the LDC project update in November with a series of stakeholder meetings, a public open house, a public meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission and a field tour of the city. In December and January, Clarion and staff compiled a detailed list of issues from many contributors over the past several years. A draft of the work completed so far will be presented to the city next month at which time it will be available for public viewing and input. The two will continue to talk with city staff, stakeholders and residents as the project moves forward.
“Sedona is an incredibly special place,” Goble said. “It’s very beautiful and unique but that hasn’t happened by accident. You’ve been able to grow and develop thoughtfully as a result of all the good work that’s been done through the planning and implementational tools you’ve worked on. This is really a once-in-a-generation opportunity to step back and rethink those planning and implementational tools to make sure they’re accomplishing what you’ve set out to do.”
The 2014 Sedona Community Plan is an expression of the community’s vision, a guide for future growth and an assessment of community priorities, a city report states.
Several goals and policies in the Sedona Community Plan can be addressed through the Land Development Code update, including but not limited to:
- Ensuring a balance of land uses and areas for concentrated mixed-use development, public gathering places and transitions between established neighborhoods and commercial areas.
- Improving circulation and creating a more walkable and bikeable community.
- Preserving Sedona’s scenic views.
- Promoting an efficient use of land and minimizing paved areas.
- Reflecting Sedona’s historic and cultural heritage.
- Providing housing diversity and affordability.
- Protecting environmentally sensitive areas.
- Maintaining a focus on sustainability.
“We want to make sure we’re capturing some creative housing options to improve affordability in order to create more diversity in the community,” Wafaie said.
Vice Chairwoman Kathy Levin said she’s excited and encouraged about the project from both a city and resident standpoint.
“I think this is a great project with good guidance from our consultants on how to take an existing document and truly update it from page one to the last page,” she said. “I’m particularly pleased to see how our organizational ideas are being interpreted to make it user friendly for those who want to develop and redevelop here in Sedona and while lessening some of the burdens.”