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New Louisville Metro Council committee to examine development in the city

Two multi-family homes next to each other
Jacob Munoz
A large portion of Louisville's Saint Joseph neighborhood allows for multi-family housing . A new Metro Council committee and existing city agency are each looking to reform local development.

The Louisville Metro Council is adding an Ad Hoc Land Use Committee. Council President Markus Winkler expects the group to recommend changes to regulations that he says are unpopular with developers and residents.

The committee will be chaired by Metro Council Members Andrew Owen, a District 9 Democrat, and Khalil Batshon, a District 25 Republican. The rest of its members will be announced by next week, according to a council press release Thursday, and the group will begin meeting in the next few weeks.

Winkler, a District 17 Democrat, said he’s heard from both local developers and residents that they feel the current regulations surrounding development don’t benefit them.

“If I put my developer hat on, we want the process to be quick and easy and predictable,” he said. “And if I'm a resident, I want to feel that I'm heard in the process, and I've got a say in what happens.”

Winkler said he expects the new committee’s members to review development processes and figure out what changes are needed. That could include adding or eliminating certain steps before a development is approved.

He also said the committee would consult with the public and experts. That includes talking to residents and developers, as well as reaching out to leaders in other cities.

“What might we learn from those areas, and how might we adapt that for Louisville?” Winkler said. “That might be process changes, it might be legislative changes, or it might be changes that we need in Frankfort.”

Metro Council already has a Planning and Zoning Committee. Winkler, who does not sit on that committee, said it is often tied up with handling zoning cases that have short deadlines, and the ad hoc committee would handle broader city issues.

He co-sponsored two ordinances that the Metro Council approved in October, altering some regulations on how landmarks are preserved in Louisville.

As Metro Council prepares for the new committee, the city’s Office of Planning is also considering new ways to promote diverse housing options through changes to the Land Development Code.

On Wednesday, the agency hosted two open houses at public libraries, showing residents what kinds of new housing types could be built, and where they could be introduced across the city.

The presentations were based on drafts prepared by Opticos Design, a California-based firm that promotes forms of “middle housing” — including multiplexes and townhouses — that are often hard to build due to restrictive zoning laws.

Emily Liu, director of the Office of Planning, said at the open house at Western Library that her team plans to introduce amendments to the code that support building more middle housing.

“Hopefully this year, we're going to work with Metro Council and the community as well to go through the adoption process,” she said.

The office has continued working on revisions since releasing a list of recommendations in 2021. Five amendments from the list’s first phase of changes were adopted later that year. Another amendment expanding where child care facilities can be established was approved in 2022.

The agency previously said it expected to present code changes promoting more middle housing by the end of last year. Liu said the city has focused on public feedback in its zoning reform efforts during the last two years.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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