Stamford to overhaul unwieldy zoning regs, strengthen affordable housing rules

At 356 pages, the city’s Zoning Regulations are 164 pages longer than “The Great Gatsby,” 100 pages longer than the “Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and 84 pages longer the “The Scarlet Letter.”

And unlike the still-slim novels, the code continues to grow. It seemingly gains a footnote, subsection or a new definition every few months as new projects are proposed in this fast-growing city, and changes to zoning rules are requested to facilitate that growth.

Since adopted in 1951, the bulky pamphlet governing what can be built and where has become a tome that even strikes seasoned land-use professionals as a lot of zoning for a little town, Land Use Bureau Chief Ralph Blessing said.

Tom Sawyer” and 84 pages longer the “The Scarlet Letter.”

And unlike the still-slim novels, the code continues to grow. It seemingly gains a footnote, subsection or a new definition every few months as new projects are proposed in this fast-growing city, and changes to zoning rules are requested to facilitate that growth.

“The zoning regs have kind of been growing for the last 50 years,” Blessing said. “This is to rationalize everything that is in there.”

The Zoning Board is now looking to tame the publication and scrub it of much of the language that complicates and at times undermines regulations. It will hold public hearings in April on what Blessing is calling an “omnibus text change.”

“It’s timely to better organize the regulations to be more transparent to everyone who wants to read them,” said Martin Levine, zoning chairman in the 1970s and 1980s and now a special assistant to Mayor David Martin.