Land development guidelines formalized
The Land Development Code Review Committee unanimously approved the so-called “trigger point” at their meeting on Tuesday, refining section 86-43 of the city’s development standards in the process.
The changes, which the LDCRC have been working on for the better part of a year, effectively puts more power into the hands of a neighborhood where new construction is being sighted.
Now, those looking to build will have to conform to the size standards of the neighborhood in which they are trying to obtain a permit for construction.
“The planning department has already used this stuff all the time, but what we wanted was more transparency,” said Committee member Tom Krekel about working on 86-43. “This way the people of the neighborhood can have more say.”
Though 86-43 has been used by the city’s planning department for thirty-plus years, the committee was charged with revisiting the code following the much debated
Mim’s property issue.
That property, with an elevated pool, sparked the debate of what is and is not suitable for a given neighborhood, coming before the planning commission on multiple occasions.
As that case became mired in debate, it became clear for committee and planning commission members that those looking to build needed to adhere to universal standards while in the design phase.
The establishment of the trigger point now prompts anyone who wants to build a home larger than the largest home in the neighborhood to use a long form permit application that costs $2,800.
“You have to respect the history the planning department has with keeping these things off of our docket,” said committee member Dr. Phil Marks. “But for me it’s more about using the carrot instead of the stick. We’re allowing people to make the right choice instead of coming before us.”
Some committee members feared the “guidelines” of the city planning department staff report on 86-43 would instead become “rules”, effecting everything from build back to universally defining what a neighborhood is.
City Planner Jimmy Jordan said the guidelines were merely “suggested”, and in no way absolutes.
“If you don’t have a compliance issue these guidelines will not be put into force,” he said. “Most people looking at this code would design their homes within these confines.”
Public response had been split during the yearlong process.
Longtime resident Larry Schopp praised the efforts of the LDCRC for taking on such a difficult project.
“It will make 86-43 more transparent, more user friendly for home and property owners and planning staff,” Schopp said. “It also allows for a much greater participation than exists now for neighboring residents.”
Larry Clark, a resident for 12 years, took the opposite tract, saying that in the process of trying to “control the mansions” on the island, the code changes have instituted a de facto “architectural review board.”
“We’re trying to retrofit an architectural review board on an island that’s 95 percent built out,” Clark said. “It scares me for the future of this island . The rules are too complex.”
Though the committee approved the changes to the code’s language, those changes still have to come before the planning commission at their meeting on June 9.
Of course, the members of the committee and planning commission are one in the same, so little resistance to the code changes are expected until the resolution reaches city council following their summer break.