The city took a major step this week toward controlling the pace of development by tentatively approving an ordinance that will require major developments to be approved by the Board of Directors.
The ordinance will allow the city to more closely scrutinize large projects and impose a wider range of conditions to ensure that projects do not increase the city’s mounting traffic, noise and pollution problems.
All commercial projects larger than 25,000 square feet and most apartment and condominium developments will now be subject to board review.
The ordinance is the first phase of a temporary slow-growth plan the board approved last week.
The key to the plan is banning the construction of office buildings larger than 25,000 square feet for up to two years, except in redevelopment areas.
Office construction in redevelopment areas will be limited to a total of 150,000 square feet each year.
The ban will stay in effect for up to two years while the city completes its work on a permanent growth-control plan.
The ban on office construction will put the brakes on what the board considers the city’s most pressing development.
But that still left the question of what to do about the quickly increasing construction of apartments, condominiums and projects such as mini-malls and industrial plants.
Director William Paparian called the ordinance tentatively approved Monday “the ribs and keel” of the city’s temporary slow-growth plan. The ordinance will come back to the board for review two more times before it is officially adopted.
The Planning Commission had recommended board review of commercial projects larger than 25,000 square feet in the downtown area and 45,000 square feet in other parts of the city.
The board rejected the less stringent standards, saying that large developments should be reviewed no matter where they are located in the city.
Exemptions to the ordinance include, municipal projects, senior citizen and low-income housing developments and projects that have already received the necessary permits to begin construction.