Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26, 2013

Chair Melanie Mindlin called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.

Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Michael Dawkins
Richard Kaplan
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
Tracy Peddicord
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Troy Brown, Jr.   Mike Morris, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar stated staff will present updates on the Unified Land Use Code and the Normal Neighborhood Plan at the Council’s December 2, 2013 Study Session. He also noted the December Planning Commission meeting will include a Type II public hearing, the final section of the Unified Land Use Code, and time permitting an update on short term home rentals.
No one came forward to speak.
Commissioner Miller recused herself from the meeting due to a potential conflict of interest.

  1.     Normal Avenue Plan Update.
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman called attention to the draft ordinance which was included in the packet materials and clarified the public hearing has been tentatively scheduled for January 14, 2014. He stated tonight’s presentation will focus on the ordinance language that differs from the existing land use code and also the language that differs from the previous version presented on October 8, 2013.
Mr. Goldman highlighted the following items that differ from the existing land use code: 1) Major and Minor Amendments, 2) General Use Table, 3) Pocket Neighborhoods, 4) Assisted Living Facilities, 5) Neighborhood Serving Commercial, and 6) Dimensional Standards Table. Other minor changes include: 1) using the term shared streets instead of woonerfs and to allow flexibility for these streets to be developed as shared streets, alleys or multiuse paths so long as the primary function of providing bike and pedestrian connectivity is met; 2) Prioritizing alley access and providing for limited curb cuts on the neighborhood collector or shared street; 3) Allowing the frontage of a lot on a common green, and4) Providing a menu of options to promote consideration of stormwater management at the design phase.
Mr. Goldman updated the Commission on the Transportation Commission’s meetings on this subject. He explained the Commission reviewed the traffic analysis report prepared by SCJ Alliance, which included a review of internal street capacity, modeling of key intersections, and system improvements. At the conclusion of their review, the Transportation Commission issued the following recommendations and considerations:

  • Recommended one access onto East Main from the new Normal Avenue.
  • Expressed concern over the cost and timing of the improvements to East Main Street, the railroad crossing, and the new Normal Avenue build out.
  • Recommended flexibility in the road relocation to reflect phasing or specific development proposals.
Mr. Goldman noted the Transportation Commission’s recommendations were not vetted by the Fire Department in terms of emergency access, and clarified staff’s recommendation differs from the Transportation Commission’s. He added the final plan will likely need to include more flexibility than what they suggested.
Mr. Goldman commented on the timeline for the plan’s adoption. He stated staff is scheduled to present an update to the City Council in December and the Planning Commission will hold their public hearing on January 14. Following the Planning Commission’s public hearing and recommendation, the ordinance will be presented to the City Council for their public hearing and decision.
Commission Discussion
The commissioners reviewed the plan and ordinance language and issued their comments and questions to staff, including:

  • Comment was made questioning why roads have been placed through the wetland areas.
    Mr. Goldman clarified the assumption is that the wetlands are not as extensive as currently shown. In the future a wetland delineation would be required and if the wetland area does in fact extend that far the applicant would have to either locate the roads outside the wetland or request a wetland mitigation.
  • Suggestion was made to adopt a pre-determined open space regardless of the final wetland delineation for each property, and for that open space area to be contiguous through the plan area.
  • Comment was made questioning how they might approach requiring open space on private property.
    Mr. Molnar explained while it may be reasonable to ask an applicant to provide for parkland or a certain amount of open space for use by the people who reside in the area, there is no guarantee these areas would be open to the general public. He added if that is the Commission’s desire they need to approach this issue carefully and consider how they would compensate the individual property owners for the possible loss of density on their land.
  • Suggestion was made to identify the alley to the west that goes through the wetland as shaded, hashed, or include a footnote to show that its location is dependent on the wetland delineation.
Public Testimony
Sue DeMarinis/145 Normal Avenue/ Commented on the shifting of roads through the wetland areas and noted if the road shifts the NA-02 developments will need to be shifted as well. Ms. DeMarinis noted the alternate pan configuration she submitted which locates the highest density in the center of the plan area and stated this is a much better place to start. She added the whole point of the plan is to prevent these lots from developing piecemeal and creating a checkerboard appearance. 
The Commission continued their discussion of the plan and issued the following questions and suggestions:

  • Comment was made noting the 90% build out requirement and asking staff to make sure they have not created an impossible standard for any of the individual lots to meet.
  • Suggestion was made for the stormwater management options to be an approval criteria and to establish a percentage of stormwater runoff that must be handled on site.
  • Suggestion was made for the Commission to discuss the annexation requirements at an upcoming meeting, specifically how property owners will meet the housing need requirement.
  • Comment was made questioning if the Commission is satisfied with the locations of the zones as proposed. Mr. Molnar cautioned the group about making any changes to the zoning locations at tonight’s meeting. He stated the individual property owners would likely be very interested in this and it was not advertised that this would be discussed.
  • Staff was asked to provide the previous drafts of the plan with an explanation of why the zoning and density locations were changed along the way as the plan evolved.
Commissioner Miller rejoined the meeting. 
  1.    Unified Land Use Ordinance: Final Draft Review of Section 18-5.  
Planning Manager Maria Harris highlighted several of the proposed changes to the procedures chapter, including:
  • The threshold for a public hearing for a site review project in the basic site review zone has been increased to structures larger than 15,000 sq.ft. or 50% of the buildings square footage.
  • The conditional use permit criteria has been changed and language added that allows the impact on the development of adjacent properties to be evaluated in terms of the cumulative effect of the proposed conditional use with other conditional uses in the vicinity of the site.
  • The effective date of Type II decisions has been changed from 13 days to 10 days to meet state law. If the 10th day falls on a weekend or holiday, citizens have until the end of the next business day to submit an appeal.
  • Priority processing for economic development projects has been added to the existing language for priority processing for LEED projects. Ms. Harris noted staff is still working with the Administration Department on this item and the language may look different when this comes back before the Commission.
  • The variance approval criteria has been made more specific. The amended criteria state: 1) the variance is necessary because the subject code provision does not account for special or unique physical circumstance of the site, 2) the need for the variance is not self-imposed by the applicant or the property owner, and 3) the variance is the minimum necessary to address the special or unique physical circumstance related to the subject site.
Commission Discussion
The commissioners issued their comments and questions to staff, including:

  • Comment was made questioning why the location of outdoor lighting needs to be shown on the conceptual plan. Staff clarified lighting is regulated under the site design and use standards and the intent is for applicants to start thinking about this earlier on in the process.
  • Suggestion was made amend to the preliminary and drainage plan requirement to allow a landscape architect to submit this plan in addition to an engineer, or revise the language and use a more general term such as “qualified professional.”
  • Suggestion was made for staff to consider allowing the performance standards options throughout town.
  • Comment was made questioning the language that requires the landscaping to be installed before the building permit for a second phase is issued. Staff commented in single family neighborhoods this makes a lot of sense, and in some cases the City needs a mechanism to make sure the landscaping happens.
  • Suggestion was made for the list of conditions the approval authority might impose (pg 5-66) be provided to the Planning Commission when they review actions.  
Meeting adjourned at 10:10 p.m.

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