City officials said Tuesday that updated zoning regulations should be ready for adoption next year.

Chad Bunger, assistant director of community development, presented updates to the Manhattan City Commission about the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

The goals of the UDO are modernizing development regulations, updating regulations to conform with state and area rules, lessening Board of Zoning Appeals cases as well as making development documents easier for applicants.

“I’m real confident we are creating a set of development regulations that’ll serve this community well to create a community that we can proud of,” Bunger said.

The UDO presents a list of reconfigurations of zoning districts in Manhattan, which are being reduced from nine to five, Bunger said. For instance, R-1, R and RS, all different versions of single-family residential districts, are being combined into a low-density residential (RL) zone. This change allows development of homes on bigger lots instead of a cluster of smaller lots.

The document also presents four different residential types, including standard, cluster, master planned and village, Bunger said. Standard proposes “minimum lot sizes and common open space” while cluster creates smaller lots from “site resources.”

Master planned has various developments and housing types lots under its category. The village category presents developments made for manufactured homes.

The UDO also details regulations for tiny homes. Tiny homes are defined as 400 square feet or less, Bunger said. He described the tiny home developments as similar to manufactured homes developments.

The commission also discussed the occupancy limit in a single residential home in Manhattan, which is a limit of four unrelated people.

“The landlords are talking about, ‘I have a house with five bedrooms, we should be able to rent it to five different people.’ I think we should discuss that,” commissioner Wynn Butler said.

Bunger said he and his staff could look into the occupancy limit, but also cautioned the commission that consistency is important.

“To be truthful, I don’t know if we can create two definitions that a family is this over here in an RL, you know, low density, and then over here, it’s something different,” Bunger said. “I don’t know. That’s probably gonna get us sued. ... I think we have to be consistent, whatever that is. We can discuss and conversate about if it should be four, six or three, or whatever the number. But I truly think we have to be consistent across the city.”

Commissioner Linda Morse urged Bunger to look into the standard number across the country.

Mayor Mike Dodson asked about the proposed update in the ordinance that sidewalks would be required on both sides of the street in new developments.

The sidewalks are installed by the builder of a home in a development, Bunger said.

Morse said she would like to see sidewalks on both sides.

Commissioner Usha Reddi also suggested Bunger and his staff talk to Kansas State University to gather their feedback about this plan as well.

No formal action was taken during the meeting.

Bunger said the process of adopting the UDO could be finished by the end of the year, but he wants to take the time to make sure people are aware of the document and fine tune each piece instead of rush through it.

“But I am of the opinion, and our staff is of the opinion, that doing that would be pushing a lot of information at folks,” he said. “And it’s already complicated enough, just the whole idea of zoning and subdivision regulations that we would struggle and probably have it blow up in our face.”

Bunger said he is presenting the edited UDO to the consultant Wednesday. The consultant will make the public draft over the course of this month and next, Bunger said. Work sessions and public outreach will occur over the next few months until the first of 2020, Bunger said. The review of each article starts is planned for February through May, and the adoption process starts next summer.

RCPD update

Riley County Police Department Director Dennis Butler also provided an update to the commission, discussing the indictment of over 50 people involved in a local drug ring, distributing fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine, among several other drugs.

“People were surprised that there was such a severe drug problem in Manhattan,” Butler said.

He said the detectives and officers worked hard in cracking this case.

Butler also informed the commission about the department’s budget update, stating that the department is under budget right now overall, but over budget in some areas. Butler did not specify which areas were high.

He also discussed the possibility of introducing new uniforms for officers, staying within the budget in possibly phasing those in to the department, he said.