Town Zoning Ordinance Under Review by Contracted Planner

With some ordinances on the books for 20 years or more, the Town has decided to conduct an ordinance audit with contracted planner Arnett Development Group.
Town Planner Cynthia May said the purpose of an ordinance audit is to see where any issues might exist, and noted the ordinances had to be reviewed or audited because some of them have been on the books for some time.

“ (Arnett Development Group) is taking it on,” May told the Planning Board at its meeting Wednesday, Dec. 11. “The scope of work includes defining any updates that might be based on current practice, because many of these have been on the books for 20 or more years. They are going to work closely with staff because the budget is kind of small.”
May said they will be identifying any new directions for issues that were part of the master plan. She said another important aspect of the audit is to look at the regulations and best management practices to see how things can be more efficient, and to have workshops and focus groups, not only for the public but also for those who use the regulations.
“This to me is a tremendous undertaking because going over regulations can become a quagmire because there are parts that are hard to understand,” Planning Board chairman Arthur Rugg said. “Some of this goes back to 1963 when the town first adopted zoning, which took a couple of attempts to get going.”
“I think originally the goal was to do this in six months and I think that’s a lofty goal,” May said. “This as staff is our priority, but we will also have to address other things as they come to us. This is going to be, for us, the new Woodmont in terms of dedication.” She was referring to Woodmont Commons, the town’s first Planned Use Development.
May said the ordinances impact how the community acts toward businesses.
Board member Mary Wing Soares asked if this was something that should cause concern, as they would be “editing our zoning.”
May disagreed, saying they are “not editing the zoning at all.”
Board member Chris Davies asked if a fixed amount of money has been set aside for the project. May said the town appropriated $20,000 and there was some money from the master plan that they could use toward the audit, “or at least use for incidental fees.”
Rugg asked the board to pass along any ideas on the audit to May.
Resident Mike Speltz asked how the audit would relate to site plan and subdivision regulations. “There has to be some allowance for the contractor to look into the site plan regs and subdivision regs,” Speltz said.
May said that is why staff would have a high involvement in the process, and not all of that fits in with the $20,000 scope.
In other business at the Dec. 11 meeting:
• May said Arnett Development Group has started working on the Growth Management Ordinance but she was not ready to have any conversation with the board about it yet.
“We’ll work towards the Jan. 8 meeting, and unless that looks like we’ll have a surprise in terms of something significant that comes up, then we’ll put it on the workshop portion of the February meeting,” she said. “They are working on looking at what’s required, what the board needs to look at as far as data going back and going forward, and what the Growth Management Ordinance needs.”
Rugg said that in January they will revisit the Growth Management Ordinance for sustainability.
Soares asked when the ordinance will sunset, and May said in January of 2015.
According to Comprehensive Planner Jon Vogl, the Growth Management Ordinance takes effect when town growth hits a specific rate, and restricts the amount of building permits allowed during that time to allow infrastructure to catch up with growth.

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