By Sandy Barnes
While presenting a draft of the revised Town development code to planning and zoning commission members at the Thursday, June 11 meeting, Planner Tim Katers said the goal is to set standards and rules to follow. “Everything is a negotiating event,” with the present code, Katers remarked.
As they scrutinized general provisions of the revised code, planning members voiced concerns about maintaining consistency with the Town’s comprehensive plan.
“There should be a connection between the two documents,” said member John Goreski. Member David Skiles agreed there should be uniform representation in the documents while member Scott Banzhaf suggested the comprehensive plan could be referenced in the development code without restating its provisions, if none of the goals were changed.
While reviewing the lengthy list of definitions in the draft, planning board members made suggestions for additions and changes. Irrigation ditches were added to the right-of-way definition and a provision for no cooking facilities was deleted from the guest house definition. Goreski advised adding horticulture to the list of agricultural activities definition, which includes farming, harvesting, raising livestock, aquaculture, sod production, nurseries and Christmas tree plantations. Planning board members also talked about chickens and whether they can appropriately be kept in Town limits, if they are in the farm animals definition.
A three-page section in the definitions, which deals with adult-oriented uses of properties, generated comments from the board because of its explicit language. However, Katers said it is legally advisable to include these definitions.
The section of the general provisions draft dealing with public notice requirements also drew discussion. Chairman Chris Thorne said it is important to ensure that adequate notice is provided to residents affected by annexations and rezoning. “More notice is better, within reason,” he stated.
Katers added that 10 days notice to property owners located within 300 feet of the parcel of the applicant is fairly standard. He also said it would be beneficial to residents to send them more information than they are presently receiving.
“The rest of the world needs to know about this, too,” said Skiles, who suggested the information be posted on the Town Web site. While agreeing, Thorne said the Town needed to follow legal procedure, which calls for written and published notice. Katers pointed out that in the case of annexations, the Town needs to follow state notification requirements, which include newspaper publication for four consecutive weeks beginning 30 days before the public hearing date.
Banzhaf said he thought that posting of notice on the property is the best way of notifying the community.
The planning and zoning commission tentatively scheduled another study session for the development code revision on June 25, when drafts of the sections dealing with vesting of property rights, code enforcement and historic resources would be reviewed. Katers said that in the future he would provide a copy of the existing Town development code along with the revisions so that planning board members could make comparisons.