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Wednesday, 24 November 2010 20:23

Public to hear about proposed changes to Waynesville land-use ordinance

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A proposed update of Waynesville’s progressive land-use ordinance that has been several years in the making is close to becoming law, as planners gear up to inform the public at two information sessions next week.

The new ordinance will update a plan that hasn’t been changed since 2003, which Waynesville Planning Director Paul Benson says is too long.

“It was due,” said Benson. “It [the ordinance] was adopted in 2003 and, honestly, wasn’t that well developed. There’s been a pretty steady drumbeat of complaints about parts of the ordinance, particularly the parking-in-front portion.”

Benson is referring to a clause in the ordinance that requires new buildings and larger renovations to locate their parking either behind or to the side of the building to present a more pedestrian friendly, urbanized feel to new development in the town.

According to Benson, 85 percent of the ordinance will remain unchanged since, he said, the ideas behind the 2003 version were solid, if the execution was sub-par.

Among the substantive changes to go into effect, perhaps the most powerful is the creation of Condition District zoning, which allows the board of aldermen to create a negotiated, site-specific zoning districts on a case-by-case basis, allowing them to make exceptions for certain developments that meet particular criteria. This change has, however, already been enacted ahead of the rest of the new ordinance after Ingles lodged a special request with the board.

Other changes will include less vagueness in design standards, increased protections for open space in high-density residential areas, and more relaxed slope regulations to allow denser development on slopes with less than 25 percent grade.

Another key feature will be an update to the parking regulations, which would vary by district and building type. For regional business districts like Russ Avenue, the new rules would allow up to 50 percent of required parking to be out front.

The new standards will also give developers some leeway in their landscaping choices, particularly around where to put plants in parking lots.

Benson said he hopes that the meetings, to be held Nov. 30 at the Waynesville Recreation Center and Dec. 2 at the Waynesville Fire Station No. 2, will allow residents who might be impacted by the changes to get their questions answered.

“It’s an opportunity for people who are interested to come in and learn about it and have input,” said Benson, “and for people with specific issues to come in and see how those are being handled.”

The sessions will begin at 6 p.m and will feature a presentation detailing the changes as well as displays and opportunities for residents to comment and ask questions.

Benson said he also hopes to have a form for questions and comments available both at the meeting and online, so those who are interested can formulate and submit questions after the meetings close.

 

Public meetings:

• 6 p.m. on Nov. 30 at the Waynesville Recreation Center.

• 6 p.m. on Dec. 2 at the Waynesville Fire Station # 2.

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