116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The Marion City Council on Thursday night OK’d a new zoning map for Ward 4, in the first of three considerations.
The council last year updated the zoning in Ward 2 and will take up Wards 1 and 3 when the Ward 4 map is finalized. It’s the first update to the city’s zoning map in three decades.
Ward 4 encompasses northwest Marion, north of Boyson Road and west of Indian Creek Road. The ward contains Linn-Mar High School and is predominantly residential.
Dave Hockett, principal planner for the city, said not much will change in the zoning for residential properties.
“Ninety percent, or even more, is really just a name change only,” Hockett said. “So if you have a single-family zone today, you will tomorrow.”
Hockett said updating the zoning codes will broaden definitions within the code and help development across the fast-growing city of almost 40,000.
“We had very traditional zoning that was very rigid,” he said. “More importantly, taking older parts of town and allowing people to expand their homes — old codes wouldn’t allow expansion of a front porch or rear addition to a house.”
Hockett said most of the change in Ward 4 will be in commercial areas, especially along Tower Terrace Road, which, for now, runs from Alburnett Road to Winslow Road in Marion.
“We’re creating more commercial districts, defining highway commercial versus neighborhood commercial and trying to create opportunity between those two extremes,” he said. “Our old code has old references like record stores and calling a bar a tavern. We’re trying to broaden the use list more.”
Hockett said there are currently no limitations on the hours a business can operate in Ward 4. With the zoning change, businesses can be open at any hour if they go through a conditional use process with the city.
“A convenience store could be open 24 hours with the proposed zoning,” he said. “We will look at it on a use-to-use basis instead of saying everyone can be open 24 hours.
“But for example, a 24-hour gym or urgent care or day care could happen, too,” he added. “We want to regulate things in a different way to allow the public to be more engaged in the process.”
With the zoning changes, the hope is to attract more business to Ward 4 as well.
“For Tower Terrace, we’re really hoping for businesses that will draw not only from north Marion but from Robins and Cedar Rapids,” Hockett said. “Maybe there's an opportunity for a drugstore, maybe there’s a Fareway out there. It will never support a big box but could attract a mid-size grocery.”
The city council will take two more votes before the Ward 4 zoning changes are approved and then begin work on the other two wards.
“We are looking at combining Wards 1 and 3 into one process,” Hockett said. “We will continue to take public comments and delve into those and do more open houses before it goes to council.”
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