Developers say the city's new zoning plan is what they were hoping for. The Shape Places master plan approved Tuesday night steers Sioux Falls' commercial and residential growth in the coming decades.
It's largely pro-development.
Commercial developers say the new plan lays out expectations for the city's zoning areas that are much clearer to understand. It also eliminates many conditional uses, which up until now have been the norm as developments and retailers wanted to expand.
“We understand going into it, as long as we do this or that, then everything is going to go smooth,” said Scott Richardson with Simon Properties, which operates The Empire Mall in Sioux Falls.
Some local developers got in on the early discussions of the ordinance. The Shape Places Plan is modeled after Sioux Falls' growth goals for the coming decades. It defines commercial intersections by size and traffic patterns, and allows various commercial square feet properties based on the commercial definition.
“It was an open input, saying, 'Here's some of our ideas, what do you folks think,' and seeking input,” Sioux Falls commercial real estate Ron Nelson said.
“In the future if somebody wants to change those corners, come forward with a development plan, present it to the public, present it to the planning commission and city council and see what happens to it,” Sioux Falls city planner Mike Cooper said.
Shape Places is about more than just commercial development though. It's about consistency. The plan eliminates nearly 200 conditional uses that would have required special permits and taken longer time for approval.
The swifter process, as long developers comply with zoning standards, means fewer questions for developers, where time is sometimes the barrier between a project moving forward or dying before the dirt moves.
“You know what the rules are up front. And there are standards in place to protect everyone,” Richardson said.
Not everyone is happy with the entire plan though. An attorney for a Sioux Falls developer said the zoning changes now mean parcels of his property are worth up to a million dollars less because the maximum number of commercial square feet that can be built there is now lower due to a zoning change.
Residents asked the council to delay the vote. The council moved forward, passing Shape Places by a 7-0 vote.