The approval marked the end of a nearly three-year effort from the town’s planning department to update the code and make it more user-friendly for citizens.
“It was really important to me that this be a readable, usable code for the public—that you as a resident or as a business owner could open this document and understand your rights, that you didn’t have to have it deciphered for you,” Senior Planner Amy Temes told council.
The “refresh” to the code sought to achieve several objectives, according to Temes:
- remove obsolete and redundant regulations, clarify and simplify language, add links and new graphics;
- address an ongoing list of resident, applicant and staff comments;
- answer requests for clarifications and zoning interpretations;
- address trends in the market;
- codify policies and design guidelines as needed;
- apply changes to the state and federal law and other code-related town documents; and
- include American Planning Association best practices.
Temes said it had been about 20 years since the code had been updated and that circumstances for the town had changed in the meantime that required the code update.
The efforts earned praise from Council Member Scott September and Mayor Brigette Peterson, both former planning commission members, and Council Member Kathy Tilque.
National Citizens Survey results
Data Content Strategist Melissa Cannon presented to council the results from the National Citizens Survey, done last spring by the National Research Center and Polco, an effort to measure communities every two years in a number of categories, and Gilbert ranked in the top three nationally in six categories and much higher than average in two more.
Gilbert was No. 1 in feeling safe from fire, flood and other natural disasters and in sidewalk maintenance, No. 2 in number of times accessing the internet from home on a computer or laptop and in checking emails, No. 3 in accessing the internet from a cell phone and in overall quality of business and service establishments. It ranked very highly, or in the top 5%, in vibrancy of its downtown and in shopping opportunities.
It ranked lower than most communities in four categories: importance of residents’ connection and engagement in their communities in the next two years, importance of overall health and wellness opportunities in the next two years, number of times in past 12 months using public transportation rather than driving and ease of travel by public transportation.
Residents in the survey indicated they enjoy a high quality of life in Gilbert as well as the town’s economy and its safety. Public transportation was indicated as area of opportunity.
The full results are available on the town website at www.gilbertaz.gov/residentsurvey.
Town Manager Patrick Banger said the results are one data point that will be used in Gilbert’s City of the Future initiative as staff figures where to place its focus.