Village Council

Village Council— Revised code to allow flexibility

The recent zoning code revision includes changes to allow more flexibility in the code that aligns with goals articulated during the 2010 community visioning project, according to a summary of the update presented to Village Council at Council’s Aug. 6 meeting.

“This kind of flexibility is, we believe, in keeping with our community’s independent spirit and its repeatedly expressed desire to avoid sprawl while we seek to add to our economic base, stabilize our population at a slightly higher level, and encourage socioeconomic diversity…” according to the summary by the Village Technical Review Committee, or TRC, which, along with Paul LeBlanc of LSL Planning, Inc. undertook the revision.

TRC members are Steven Conn, Marianne MacQueen, Matt Reed of Planning Commission and Lori Askeland of Village Council.

The increased flexibility in the zoning code will allow smaller lot sizes in some areas and slightly smaller setbacks, which is the distance required between buildings and property lines, “while still requiring enough space for safety, maintenance and green space,” the summary states. The revised code also allows more flexibility regarding accessory buildings.

“Since the Village favors infill and higher density, we have sought to avoid regulations that mandate suburban standards of very wide streets and houses set far back from the road, and instead seek to encourage the creation of spaces that invite walking, biking and a feeling of neighborliness,” the summary states.

Overall, the zoning code changes “do not represent a dramatic change,” the summary states, but are rather “tweaks” of old regulations that were not working, along with clarifications where necessary. The code had last been updated in the 1980s, according to the summary, “a very long time for any municipality to go without a major Code revision.”

In the summary, TRC committee members express appreciation for the work of LeBlanc, a managing partner of LSL. LeBlanc took extended tours of the village and “had extended conversations with a variety of individuals and groups” in order to under the community before beginning the drafting process, the document states.

The presentation to Council was the first step of an extended community process to review a draft of the zoning code revision. The draft was presented to the Planning Commission at its Aug. 13 meeting, and will be presented to the community at an open house on Aug. 28, from 6–9 p.m. at the Bryan Center, rooms A and B. During these hours, citizens may come any time to view displays and talk with members of the TRC group, and short presentations on the changes will take place at 6 and 7:30 p.m.

Next, the draft will be reviewed at two joint Council/Planning Commission meetings in September, with possible dates of Sept. 10 and 24. The meetings will include opportunities for public input and discussion. After this, the TRC will meet to review comments and make necessary adjustments to the draft. A special meeting of the Planning Commission to review the amended plan will take place on Oct. 29.

Finally, more opportunities for community input will be available at regular Council meetings during which the zoning code update is considered in November and December.
In other Aug. 6 Council business:

• Council unanimously approved supplemental appropriations of $194,674 from all funds in the Village budget.

• Council unanimously approved a development agreement with Homc, Inc. for the construction of four affordable single-family homes on Cemetery Street.

• Council heard from Village Manager Laura Curliss that current electric rates may not be sufficient for covering the cost of purchasing power at some levels of usage. Curliss will review the current rate structure with consultant John Courtney in the next month and return to Council with recommendations. Lori Askeland expressed her preference for rates that encourage energy conservation rather than energy usage.

• Council reviewed a timeline for a police chief search process. The process includes the Aug. 7 posting of the job description, with a deadline of Aug. 31 for applicants; interviews with the Village manager and Council members in early September, and background checks on shortlisted candidates during the last two weeks of September. Second interviews as needed will take place in early October, with an announcement of the new chief by Oct. 12.
Street paving began last week and continues this week on Omar Circle, Barbara Court, Ridgecrest Drive, Robinwood Drive, Keystone Court, Park Place, Glen Street and the southern end of South High Street, including West Herman Street.

• Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.

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