Zoning ain’t sexy. The mere mention of the word makes most people’s eyes glaze over immediately. But when it comes time to put an addition on your home or build a new home, zoning is vital.

While zoning isn’t normally a subject for cocktail parties, it also shouldn’t be so arcane that only members of the Cult of Zoning should be able to understand basic concepts. That’s why, despite the fact that many people in Riverside don’t believe it goes far enough, it’s such good news that the village has adopted a residential zoning code that can be used by village staff, architects and property owners.

It’s especially important in an era in Riverside where blocks are experiencing the teardown phenomenon. Teardowns are never replaced by smaller houses. The replacements are always larger, bulkier structures that occupy a greater percentage of the lot. With the new code in hand, guidelines for just how bulky those new homes can be is clearly defined.

One aspect of the new code that is missing is the deign review part of the equation. Setting up a Design Review Committee was deemed important enough that the Plan Commission included it in its final draft of the zoning ordinance to the village board.

Village trustees felt the committee might stray into the realm of subjectivity and become an arbiter of taste rather than an interpreter of the code. As a result, design review?”which is part and parcel of the village’s commercial zoning code?”was slashed from the final, approved version.

The board felt that by adding such rules, such as a list of approved materials, that matters handled by a Design Review Committee would be dealt with by the code itself. The list seems somewhat arbitrary and discriminatory against non-traditional materials?”how would Frank Lloyd Wright’s concrete “textile” block homes of the 1920s fare under the code, for example?

Could a Design Review Committee have overstepped its authority? We suppose so, but we’d like to think that the people appointed to such commissions could be given the benefit of the doubt.

At any rate, the new code is a vast improvement over the decades-old code it replaced. It’s the result of countless hours of deliberate and serious discussions by members of the village staff, Plan Commission, Board of Trustees, members of some of the village’s other appointed commissions and residents. Overall, it’s a solid, serious document.

Next up, making sure those who will no doubt be abiding by the zoning code will also be good neighbors during the construction period.

Move it on over

The snow will be flying soon enough. In Brookfield, that’s going to mean moving your cars on Sundays to allow for a new restriction going into effect when there’s a snowfall of 2 or more inches.

Starting basically now, parking will be limited to just one side of the street (the side of the street that allows parking on Saturdays) during the day on Sundays to allow snowplows to more easily navigate the village’s narrow streets.

While no on will be ticketed, at least early on, for not complying with the new restriction, it sure would be nice if people took it upon themselves to move their cars either onto the correct side of the street (or off the street entirely) to allow for plowing.