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Advocacy group wants accessibility policies included in ReZone Syracuse

An aerial view of a city with buildings in the foreground and an lake in the background.
John Marino
An aerial image of the city of Syracuse.

An organization that advocates for people with disabilities to live independently in their communities is calling on the city of Syracuse to include specific policies in their zoning overhaul. ARISE in a release Monday listed three provisions they want the city to include inReZone Syracuse:

1. Promote Accessible Entrances to Buildings

  • Require new and renovated building entrances to be accessible.
  • Add language that explicitly allows renovations that increase the accessibility of a building--such as replacing stairs with a no-step entrance and/or an access ramp.
  • When approving zoning requests to open historic buildings to the public, require the buildings to meet all ADA standards.
  • Add illustrations that show examples of buildings with ramps or no stairs at front entrance in all sections about building standards in different zoning districts.

2. Promote Accessible, Age-Friendly Housing

  • Allow boarding and rooming houses in all Residential and Mixed-Use zoning districts.
  • Avoid restrictions on the features used in the past to challenge group homes--limiting multi-family housing, restricting total number of bedrooms in unit, regulating size of development via lot size/density.

3. Create a Review Process Attuned to Accessibility

  • In review process, add a step requiring an Accessibility Review--ensuring design plans checked for accessibility features and compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
  • Make all zoning ordinance documents available in all accessible formats.
  • Add language that creates a timely notice and review procedure to appeal notices of decisions that do not grant a requested reasonable accommodation.
  • Appoint a member of the disability community who has experience and knowledge of Fair Housing law and Americans with Disability Act housing issues to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The Syracuse Planning Commission did not advance ReZone Syracuse to the Common Council for a vote on Monday evening. The plan will be discussed again at the commission's next meeting.
ReZone Syracuse first needs to be recommended to the Common Council by the planning commission. The council will then vote on whether or not to adopt the new ordinance.

Andrew MacBeath is a digital content editor at WAER.