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Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

   2014 39.95 HSD w VIDor PH-Banner2-500-x-125

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CB commission looks at zoning ordinances

Four topics dominated last week’s Colonial Beach Planning Commission meeting. These included: Article 30 and its recommendation to be forwarded to the council, a resent presentation to the council regarding zoning ordinance C-1 and newly created C-2 and Maritime Commercial District, and the introduction of a Unified Development Ordinance and a work plan for the Planning Commission.
Article 30 of the Colonial Beach zoning ordinance was created to set basic developmental standards and guidelines within each zoning district and is designed to promote public health, safety and welfare as well as environmental protection of our water, air and land.
Article 30 ensures all new construction not only conforms to Chesapeake Bay Act regulations, but that roads and drainage are built to VDOT standards before dwellings can be occupied.
Several items address aesthetics that conform to the new Comprehensive Plan such as screening heating and air conditioning units from public view and placement of decorative street lamps and underground utilities.

The Planning Commission discussed Article 30 briefly before all members present voted unanimously to forward it to the Town Council for approval.
Next the commission reviewed what was discussed at the recent Town Council committee meetings.
Councilman David Coombes gave a brief overview of what took place for newly elected Planning Commission Chairman Ed Grant who was not present for the committee meeting.
“In review we talked about the C-1 and C-2 in concert with this,” said Coombes. “The revisions to the C-1 to make it less restrictive, the establishment of C-2 to make it restrictive and intensive and then the Maritime Commercial with basically one or two revisions as I recall. The council, as I recall, basically understood what we were doing and verbally gave us the go ahead.”
The intention of Director of Planning Gary Mitchell was to review the changes with the appropriate committee and in doing so he was able to present them to the majority of the council. This allowed the staff to get a consensus of how the council would receive the changes before spending tax dollars for a public hearing.
Mitchell felt that the changes were received very favorably.

Changes in Zoning
In the proposed drafted zoning ordinances no zoning designations have been changed. What has been changed is how each allowed use is handled within the zoning designation.
Properties that are zoned C-1 still remain but some of the uses that were considered to be allowed “by-right” will now require a conditional use permit (CUP). For example, gas stations, go-carts, hotels, automobile service station, vehicle service station or veterinary practice would require a conditional use permit.
Margaret McMullen aired her concerns saying: “If I own property on what we have designated as potentially Maritime Commercial and it is zoned C-1, now it will stay C-1 unless I ask for it to be changed to Maritime Commercial which in my opinion does absolutely nothing.”
Mitchell responded by saying: “If you own C-1 now there are things that you can do by-right and the proposal that the council committee understood and I believe endorsed takes some of the things that are intensive or things that people had concerns about and allows them to still be in C-1 but to become CUP. So we are not taking away anyone’s development rights but we don’t have to get into this down-zoning argument and all that.”
The designation of C-2 is newly created to handle requests for rezoning to allow more intensive uses that otherwise unchecked could cause great hardship if allowed in residential areas.
C-2 includes many uses such as arts, crafts and photography studios, service stations, community center, funeral homes and pawn shops.
Although some of these uses are allowed with CUP under C-1, if existing buildings are torn down or parcels are combined, rezoning to C-2 may become necessary.

Maritime Commercial
The Maritime Commercial (MC) District encompasses the areas formerly designated as the C-1 zoning district that are located south of Boundary Street to the southern town limits. The purpose of this district is to provide sufficient space in appropriate locations for a variety of commercial activities related to water-oriented uses.
The following uses are permitted within the Maritime Commercial (MC) District with an approved site plan: accessory structures, community facilities, public, private and commercial piers, public utilities, restaurants, single family dwellings, arts/crafts/photography studios, hotels and motels and live/work units.
The following uses are permitted under Maritime Commercial District with a conditional use permit: boat building establishments, marinas, maritime resort, seafood packing facilities, retail establishments and convenience stores.
The Planning Commission voted to set a public hearing next month the new zoning.
McMullen feels that the Planning Commission has not as a group gone through every item line by line. So she alone voted nay to a public hearing.
Next Mitchell introduced the idea of working on an unified development ordinance (UDO), a comprehensive set of regulations that will protect and enhance property values, preserve and protect neighborhoods, provide appropriate land uses and improve the quality of life and aesthetics for the citizens of the Town of Colonial Beach.
This type of ordinance consolidates all regulations that govern land development and land use into a single user-friendly document according to Mitchell.
“It normally includes charts and tables and graphics to make its provisions more accessible and understandable instead of using a lot of verbiage,” Mitchell said. “Often zoning and subdivision ordinances are criticized because they tend to list all the things you can’t do or restrict what you can do but a UDO, however, actually talks about what you can do.”
Mitchell explained that a UDO is a living document that adjusts and changes just as any other ordinance. It would evolve and grow with the town and amendments could be made just like other document.
Form-based Code and Unified Development Ordinance are synonymous terms for a UDO used in other localities. Coombes asked Mitchell to stick with the one term of UDO to eliminate confusion.
Town Attorney Andrea Erard expressed her concern regarding cost by asking: “Are you talking about rewriting the entire code?”
Mitchell responded by saying: “We’re going to take what you have and reformat it as needed, keep things that are in there and add things that are needed.”
The UDO would replace the subdivision ordinance, zoning ordinance and ENS ordinances and the town would have one unified document.
After much concern over time and cost from commission members, Mitchell explained that “in another jurisdiction we took the approach of taking each section as it came along and at the end we rolled them all together into one ordinance and renumbered them which took two yeas with a staff of three.”
Gary passed out a work plan that he feels is a road map of what the Planning Commission should be going over in the next two years. His intention is to reformat each item as a chapter in the UDO.
Mitchell asked the commission to prioritize the work plan.
Coombes shared with the council that when he was still chairing the Planning Commission he was called by State Sen. Richard Stuart, who is the legal counsel for Lennar Homes, a builder who is planning to develop the 520-acre tract of land by Wilkerson’s Restaurant. Sen. Stuart conveyed to Coombes that “they are getting ready.”
Ben Bell sold part of the land to them but still owns a part of it.
Because of this news Coombes feels the subject of proffers should be first on the list of the “work plan.” According to Coombes they plan to apply for some rezoning.
All members of the commission agreed that proffers and subdivision ordinances should top the list.

Linda Farneth
Staff reporter

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