Development laws for downtown South Bend could soon be changing

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Development laws for downtown South Bend could soon be changing.

“Because we haven't revised our zoning laws like this in years, and so let's get as close to right as we possibly can,” Councilman Oliver Davis said.

The South Bend Common Council's Zoning and Annexation Committee continued talks Tuesday surrounding the Central Business District zoning ordinance amendment.

“So, 75% of the legislation is really just bringing over things we have already been working with, with local developers, small and large alike,” Council Member Jo M. Broden said. “There are already existing standards, and we're just pulling those in and actually codifying, formalizing them.”

A key focus is on preserving the riverfront.

“We're also just adding things that are recognized, good urban design principles for the city of South Bend and things that will accomplish the activation of our riverfront,” Broden said.

That includes a 15-foot setback from the East Race, meaning no buildings can be built within 15 feet of the bank.

“Basically, that's driven out of ecological concerns about the river, access for our engineers or other engineers for repair issues,” Broden said.

Broden said recent flooding and the future possibility of erosion play into the 15-foot buffer.

City officials answered questions and took down concerns as the ordinance heads to the full common council meeting Monday, July 22.

The committee's chairman was pleased with how Tuesday's meeting went.

“It helps us to work on a consistent plan with those who are on the East Bank area and at the same time help us really maximize and benefit from our own landscape there, our natural resources, our river,” Davis said.

Both Davis and Broden say they expect there to be a vote on the zoning ordinance at Monday's common council meeting.

If it does pass, according to Indiana law, it would then go back to the St. Joseph County Area Plan Commission for another vote.