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Zoning changes could speed up development in Syracuse

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
Syracuse City Hall.

The city of Syracuse is embarking on a series of pubic meetings to get final input on a project that reworks the city’s dated zoning ordinance and zoning map.

The last time the city’s 100-year-old zoning laws were updated was 1967. City Planner Owen Kerney said no one in the 1960s foresaw things like micro-breweries and doggie day cares opening up in the city; so the old ordinances can create roadblocks for certain projects.

"The community has changed a lot since then, but zoning laws haven’t,” Kerney said. 

Ultimately, Kerney said this round of zoning changes would keep things that work well, and change things that inhibit growth.

"So maybe instead of taking six to eight weeks to get a permit, maybe two weeks," Kerney said. "Or maybe some things under two weeks. So even things that aren’t changing a lot, making it more nimble."

Kerney’s been leading ReZone Syraucse since 2015, and expects it will be in place by the end of the year, before the massive Interstate 81 reconstruction begins. He said no matter what configuration the state decides to replace the current I-81 overpass, there is the possibility of development in that vicinity that would require new ways of thinking.

“So thinking about having greater building density in and around that area," Kerney said. "Having a greater mix of uses around, having greater building heights. That area around 81 now is fairly underdeveloped."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.