The Decorah Planning and Zoning Commission has invited the Decorah City Council to discuss a petition for a new residential zoning classification.

The Council referred the petition it received in November from attorney Karl Knudson of Decorah to the Commission. At its meeting last month, the Commission tabled a review of the petition and decided to invite the Council to its next meeting for a broader discussion of the matter.

"They (Commission members) would like to devote a serious amount of time to discussing this and want Council members to look at the nature of the petition in a global sense ... how it impacts the community and how it impacts current zoning districts," City Manager Chad Bird said after the Commission meeting.

The Commission is scheduled to address the issue at its meeting 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, in Council chambers at City Hall.

Bird said the discussion might include whether there could be changes to the current zoning ordinance without creating a new zoning classification.

100 signatures

Knudson's petition was signed by 100 residents seeking the creation of a R-6 residential zoning designation for medium density residential condominium development.

The amendment would not designate a particular area to be included in the new zoning class, he said. Any rezoning into a new district would be done through a separate proceeding after the new district was established, the attorney said.

Knudson represents west side residents who are opposed to the proposed three-story, 60-unit Traditions apartment complex off Mound Street. A site plan for the project has been submitted, but city officials are waiting for additional information before the Council can consider it for approval. City Manager Chad Bird said the project developer has provided a revised plan for the complex, which reduces its total square footage, but has not submitted the specific information the city has requested.

The Traditions site is located near Aase Haugen Home and part of the Riverwalk Subdivision. The initial subdivision developer obtained site plan approval and tax increment financing for his subdivision after promising Mound Street neighbors and city officials condominiums with two to four units would be constructed and arranged in accordance with a site plan approved by the city in 2000, according to Knudson.

In his petition to create a new residential zoning classification, Knudson said the current R-3 high density residential district zoning of Riverwalk is inconsistent with the city's comprehensive land-use plan "and such zoning had attracted and will continue to attract interest in inappropriate high density development in the unfinished portion" of the subdivision.

A new zoning designation would create an extra option for the city, according to Knudson.

"At present, condominium development is deemed inappropriate in any medium-density residential zoning district and condominiums can only be sited in a high-density residential district. Yet there are areas which are appropriate for condominium development but are inappropriate for high-density residential development," Knudson wrote in a letter accompanying his petition.

"The proposed new district would therefore create an intermediate district, filling a gap in our zoning ordinance by enabling medium density condominium districts, and would enable the city to better implement its comprehensive plan," he wrote.