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Newark Life

Newark Charrette

May 23, 2022 11:59AM ● By Tricia Hoadley

The City of Newark Planning and Development Department hosted a charrette, called “Planning Our Downtown, Together,” in Council Chambers and virtually via Microsoft Teams from March 21 to March 25.

In recent years, proposed land-use projects have raised questions about building height, scale, density, configurations, and parking. To address these concerns, the City of Newark is reviewing its Zoning Code for potential revisions to the BB (Central Business District) and RA (Multifamily Dwelling-High Rise Apartments) Zoning Districts.

The charrette was a multi-day hybrid (in-person and virtual) meeting where stakeholders and citizens shared views and opinions and collaborated to develop potential planning and design solutions that seek to address these concerns. In advance of the charrette, the key stakeholders were invited to provide their input to shape charrette activities.

On Day 1 of the charrette, the events focused on the downtown’s issues and opportunities through a virtual walking tour and open house. On Day 2, the team and public generated ideas and framed the design solutions that could address the issues and build upon the opportunities. Days 3 and 4 were devoted to refining these potential solutions and outlining the framework for zoning updates. On Day 5, the team presented the major findings from the week, which included the basic tenets to amend the zoning ordinance supported by concept plans and diagrams that reveal how development could look.

For the BB District, a key basic tenet is to keep the base height at three stories and permit bonus stories up to seven stories for projects that advance the City’s planning policies and goals. These goals are for more street-level plazas and public space, affordable housing, and homeownership. For the RA District, the team recommends keeping the maximum base height of seven stories and removing the current conditional provisions that permit up to ten stories.

In addition, other basic tenets include strengthening the City’s architectural standards that would improve the downtown appearance and vitality. Examples include requiring architectural elements that reduce the appearance of mass and bulk, emulate city character, and promote street activity. The team also recommends moving forward with the current Parking Committee Recommendations to reduce the amount of parking required with a new development project and to make better use of the existing parking supply through shared parking policies, way-finding signage, and other parking management strategies. These and other basic tenets resulting from the charrette will be refined and included in a report to City Council.

Later this spring, the City’s consultant, AECOM, will present the charrette final report to City Council. After direction from Council is received, AECOM will work with City staff to draft revisions to the Zoning Code for a review and recommendation by the Planning Commission and for formal consideration by the City Council. The proposed revisions to the Zoning Ordinance will first be presented as a preliminary draft for review and comment and then resubmitted as formal proposed revisions. All meetings of the Planning Commission and City Council regarding the charrette report and Zoning Ordinance revisions will be open to the public.

To learn more about the process and to watch or listen to the public meetings that occurred during the charrette, and to keep apprised of upcoming meetings please visit newarkde.gov/zoning.

If you have questions, please contact the City at [email protected] 

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