Discussion of Additional Ideas
Land Use Management Ordinance
December 9, 2002
On November 5, 2002, the Town Council asked for additional study and discussion of the following issues related to the Land Use Management Ordinance in general:
Staff Comment: We will present information on December 9.
Staff Comment: We provided a report to the Council on November 25, detailing probable resource implications involved with proposed Tree Protection regulations. We believe that a threshold of 5,000 square feet of disturbed land area would mean that most new house construction would need to comply with Tree Protection regulations, but that most additions to existing dwellings would not trigger the requirements. A threshold of 2,000 square feet would likely mean that all new house construction, and most additions to existing houses, would need to comply with the regulations.
Staff Comment: We will present illustrations on December 9. We note that Council Member Harrison has prepared additional suggestions for steep slope regulations as requested by the Council, which are attached here, including limiting land disturbance in steep slope areas to 25%. We believe the proposed adjustments would be desirable, and note especially the point that there would be provision for case-by-case exemptions by the Town Council in consideration of a Special Use Permit, or by the Board of Adjustment in case of a variance request.
Staff Comment: We provided a report to the Council on November 25, detailing probable resource implications involved with proposed Stormwater Management regulations. We believe that a threshold of 5,000 square feet of disturbed land area would mean that most new house construction would need to comply with the regulations, but that most additions to existing dwellings would not trigger the requirements. A threshold of 2,000 square feet would likely mean that all new house construction, and most additions to existing houses, would need to comply with the regulations.
On November 25, 2002, the Town Council asked for discussion of options for the Fourth Draft, to address each of the following issues:
Staff Comment: This change could be made with adjustment to language on page 84 of the Fourth Draft. The implication of reducing the threshold means that it would be possible that only 1 house in a group of 5-7 homes would be limited in size. We believe that it would be consistent with the Council’s policies as stated in the Comprehensive Plan to lower this threshold from 13 lots to 5 lots. Regarding the Payment-in-lieu option: If the Council wished to avoid the scenario where only one house in a subdivision is size-limited, the Council could add language that would allow the Council to authorize a payment-in-lieu of such restriction.
Staff Comment: As directed by the Council, the Fourth Draft does not specify maximum parking requirements. The Fourth Draft contains the same minimum parking requirements that exist in the current Development Ordinance. The Council could eliminate most of Section 5.9, beginning on page 199 of the Fourth Draft, to eliminate minimum parking requirements as well. If minimum parking requirements are eliminated, we would suggest still retaining in the ordinance standards for parking lot design, to be applied in situations where an applicant proposes parking (even though it might not be required). We note that the Council has indicated intent to study options for parking requirements during 2003.
Staff Comment: Page 88 of the Fourth Draft contains the Dimensional Matrix table that includes impervious surface limitations (Column K) for areas outside the Watershed Protection District. The Council could choose to change the 24/50 limitation (24% under the low density option, 50% under the high density option) to 24/70. We note that the proposed impervious surface maximum of 50% would be consistent with and comparable to the current Development Ordinance’s Liveability Space Ratio of .53 for high-density residential zones. A 70% impervious surface limitation would be consistent with and comparable to the current Development Ordinance’s Liveability Space Ratio of 27% for commercial zoning districts. We note that the more rigorous stormwater management requirements in the Fourth Draft address many of the objectives that might otherwise be addressed by impervious surface restrictions. We believe that, outside of the Watershed Protection District, the Council could reasonably set the maximum impervious surface limit under the high-density option at 70%. A change within the Watershed Protection District would need the concurrence of the State.
In addition, we note the clarification to the definitions of Intermittent Stream and Perennial Stream that have been suggested by Council Member Harrison (attached), to refer specifically to natural springs and specifically to plant species identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We believe that these clarifications would be useful.
FROM: Ed Harrison –December 3, 2002
TO: Council colleagues
CC: Manager and Planning Director
SUBJECT: Additional language for LUMO Draft #4, section on steep slopes (pages 162-165)
I would like to thank the Manager for supporting my proposed revision in the purpose statement for this section of the ordinance. On my part, this was a reaction to participant comments in this Fall’s workshop.
This memo is an attempt to address what I believe are some unresolved issues regarding steep slopes, which are a new area of land use management and regulation for our Town.
(1) Clarify the definition of a slope
Section 5.3.2.a (page 162) defines a slope as including “only those areas with a horizontal distance of at least twenty (20) feet. This does not define the minimum overall area to be regulated. I propose that that this section also include a 20 by 20 foot (400 square feet) area threshold for regulation of slopes meeting the slope percentage threshold.
(2) Maintain the threshold for regulation at a 25 percent slope.
(3) Limit land disturbance to 25 percent of the area containing 25 percent or greater slopes.
Exceptions would be: (a) Town Council decision, on a case-by-case basis to grant a waiver for the land disturbance percentage in consideration of applications for Special Use Permits or Preliminary Subdivision plats; or (b) granting of a variance by the Board of Adjustment
In my opinion, this standard better reflects the language in Table 5.3-1 for slopes of 25 percent or greater: “Generally unsuitable for development.” In our Design Guidelines, these areas are called “Preserved Areas.” I do not believe that it reflects the intent of this Council to allow disturbance on land whose slope makes it “unsuitable for development” or “Preserved” at a percentage as high as half of the steep slope area.
(4) Redevelopment for sites which contain steep slopes meeting these thresholds should have to meet the same standards as newly disturbed land. In these cases, the exceptions listed in (3) above could be applied, depending in whether final action was by (a) Council or (b) Planning Board or staff.
This set of standards, in particular the limit on land disturbance, would be among those under continued review by Council over a one-year period after our adoption of the LUMO.
FROM: Ed Harrison – December 3, 2002
TO: Council colleagues
CC: Manager and Planning Director
SUBJECT: Additions to RCD definitions
This memo proposes; (1) to make explicit the inclusion of “springs” in the RCD through amending a definition, and to propose a buffer amount; and (2) to add a definition to clarify the already-present definition of Perennial Stream.
(1) Proposed definition and distance for “springs.”
Discussion: Neither the current DO nor any draft of the LUMO has made any explicit reference to the RCD buffer for springs – at least none that I can see anywhere. They are not included in the list of terms (3.6.3.a) which are defined in the Glossary for the LUMO. However, Council has received at least one project this year in which a buffer is required for a spring, in the most recent case a spring which is not on the applicant’s property. It is not my experience that the kind of surface runoff which can be controlled so well by buffers has more effect on springs than does disruption of the underground water table by drilling for wells and by other excavations.
On consultation with Fred Royal, who now administers field verifications for RCD determinations, I propose:
Amending the definition of Intermittent Stream” to insert the sentence after the word “depression” – “The latter includes natural springs.”
This would give every spring the minimum buffer distance applicable to an intermittent stream, of 50 linear feet from the edge of the water. All limitations for the Streamside Zone should apply to this buffer.
If the spring has a stream flowing out of it which can be verified in the field as perennial, then staff can have discretion to require the buffer to be that for a perennial stream, 150 feet. Language to this effect could be added to the definition for Perennial Stream. All limitations for the full 150 buffer should apply by zone to this buffer.
(2) A definition for vegetation indicators used in the field verification of a Perennial Stream.
This should be added to Appendix A , Definitions.
Obligate and facultative wetland vegetation – Species of plants which are known to occur, respectively, more than 99 percent of the time in wetlands, and more than 67 percent in wetlands. These species are listed in the National List of Plant Species That Occur in Wetlands: Southeast (Region 2), published periodically by the U.S. Fish and Wildlfe Service. Federal agencies consider these plant species to be the best indicators that an area is consistently inundated or saturated. When found between or along stream banks, these species can be considered to be excellent indicators that the stream is perennial.
[Comment – While this does bring the Town into the business of wetland protection via regulation, it signifiies that the most easily visible indicator of wetland status can be used as one of the factors for classifying a stream as perennial, and therefore requiring a 150-foot buffer.]