Most people don’t look at a city’s zoning code until they’re trying to build something, and even then, they often don’t understand it.

The City of Verona is hoping to change that with a rewrite of its zoning code, which is 23 years old. The code rewrite, which the city has contracted out to a Chicago-based firm to handle, will likely carry forward many of the same rules, but with simpler language, visual representations and charts and modern adjustments, city administrator Adam Sayre told the Press this week.

Zoning regulates the look and feel of a property, restricts or promotes certain types of building or uses and controls housing density, among other things.

The update begins with a set of three open houses Monday, Oct. 7, for different parts of the code – commercial, signs and residential areas, with people invited in each area.

Through the open houses, Sayre said he’s hoping to get feedback from the rest of the community.

“If there’s thoughts or concerns, tell us now before we get farther along,” he said.

Anything zoning-related is on the table, from whether guest houses should be allowed in some areas to whether green initiatives should be part of the code. Zoning covers most aesthetic rules, as well, such as fencing, landscaping and building height.

“It impacts all development you see in the city,” Sayre said. “This is what drives how things look.”

Particular feedback that city staff and planners from Houseal Lavigne Associates are interested in includes whether people think there are areas of the zoning code that are hard to understand, if parking and landscaping requirements are appropriate, whether there should be new zones, such as for mixed use, and thoughts about including sustainability in the ordinance.

“I think if there’s something people are passionate about, they should come,” Sayre said.

The new code is not intended to make wholesale changes, such as some SmartCode ordinances that purely regulate design, rather than use, said Sayre, who spent six years as the city’s planning and development director before taking a promotion this summer.

“A lot of the intent is making it easier for people to read,” he said. A lot of it is going to get carried over.”

The event begins at noon, starting with a commercial and industrial areas workshop. That will be followed at 1:30 p.m. with a sign ordinance focus group. The final session is the residential areas workshop, from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Anyone who is interested in commenting or discussing the workshops or the plans for the zoning code but can’t attend can contact community development specialist Katherine Holt at 845-0909 or email katherine.holt@ci.verona.wi.us.

For information, visit the project website at hla.fyi/verona.

Email Verona Press editor Jim Ferolie at veronapress@wcinet.com.