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Planner pushes user-friendly code
Posted By Editor On October 8, 2009 @ 4:50 pm In Business News | Comments Disabled
By Sandy Barnes
Town Planner Tim Katers said he would like to move from “negotiated zoning” with a different set of regulations for each project to clearly defined ones during his presentation to the Town Board at the Tuesday, Oct. 6 meeting. “What I’d like to do is strike a balance between too much and too little regulation,” he said.
Katers questioned the present practice of using planned unit development as a basis for zoning, which he said results in subjective direction to applicants. “You wind up with a weird mix of zoning and design,” he remarked. “Our goal is to clean that up.”
Holding up a copy of the Town’s development code, Katers said he could throw it out and just use PUD standards. “Through developer inclination, general practice and limited Town direction, almost no new project in Berthoud uses traditional zoning districts,” Katers stated in his report to the Board.
“We’ve had all these zoning districts in place for over a decade,” said Trustee Michael Patrick. “As long as the PUD process is an option, people are going to use it. It’s picking an option that allows flexibility.” There are certainly downsides to extensively using the PUD, he added. “On the one hand, it looks like it’s easier. But it’s like a Model-T.”
“In a PUD you still have elements from other zones,” Mayor Tom Patterson pointed out.
During the trustees’ study session, which was a joint meeting with the planning and zoning commission, Katers said he was looking for direction in the code revision process. The current focus is on revising the zoning section of the code along with design standards. Katers said he also would like to add new sustainability standards to the code regarding the use of solar energy and energy efficient design. While noting that the Town Board had directed him to use the Colorado Model Land Use Code as a basis for the Town revision, Katers suggested elements of the streamlined Smart Code — such as one-page charts for zoning information.
“When you talk about making it more user-friendly, the tabular zoning standard is very helpful to applicants,” Mayor Pro Tem David Gregg remarked.
While discussing the Town’s present design standards, Katers said he would like to see “real live” rules. “Right now they’re encouragements. We can’t enforce that,” he remarked. “What I want is to have rules in there.”
Katers also said that he would like to streamline the Town’s design standards, which include architecture, landscaping, buffering, lot and block design and fences. “I’m not sure we need 40 regulations on what a house needs,” he said.
Another goal in the code revision is to reach out to the community for input, Katers said. Which zoning and design standards are most important to citizens could be gauged through community meetings and electronic surveys, he said. Trustee John Bauer suggested that Katers use the Town Web site in this effort, rather than online forums with anonymous blogs.
Trustees told Katers that they believed he was on the right track in his efforts to revise the Town code, while responding to his question about the progress made so far.
Katers has set a goal of completing the project by the end of the year.
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