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Board holds off on land use vote

The Waynesville Planning Board said this week it will hold off on adopting a major update to the town’s land use plan until February at the earliest, and will delay voting even then if it thinks citizens still want time to digest the plan and offer suggestions.

“I will say that people have told me that if we vote at this meeting it would prevent some from commenting,” said planning board member Jon Feichter at the Dec. 20 meeting. “I would be in favor of waiting until at least Feb. 21 to vote.”

Other planning board members agreed to wait until then at the earliest.

“I think we can tentatively schedule it for then, but it can wait until later if that’s what we need to do,” said board chairman Patrick McDowell.

Town Planning Director Paul Benson also said that there should be no rush to adopt the revisions.

“It is my recommendation that you vote when you feel comfortable with it. Tonight would be too early,” said Benson.

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Benson told board members he would like them to delay voting and take public comment at its next couple of meetings.

The updates to the town’s land development standards have been in the works for more than a year. Waynesville hired a consulting company that has been working with a town committee to update the land-use standards that were originally adopted in 2003. Nearly 40 meetings have been held, and result of that work was presented to town citizens at two public meetings in late November and early December.

Benson prepared a package of all the comments for the planning board, but he said two issues raised by the public stood out: one, criticism of the revision that will remove the mandate that parking be on the side and in backs of buildings in commercial areas; and two, complaints about the new plan’s allowable density and height.

The board did not discuss any changes to the original proposal in response to public comment from the two public meetings.

Feichter did bring up one problem that he said might need to addressed: the stipulation that redevelopment of existing structures did not have to meet the new standards as long as the revision was to less than 50 percent of the existing structure. He said some could take advantage of this if there was not a time limit put in the regulations saying how long a period there had to be between renovations.

Benson suggested that saying a year must pass between renovations would likely solve this problem, but the board did not adopt any change.

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