Council Approves Adoption of Changes to Special Plan (SP) District and General Code Cleanups and Process Improvements

County Planners Gary Leikness, left, and Martha Perkins join Steve Brugger of the Community Development Department who is briefing Council on the highlights of text amendments relating to the Special Plan (SP) as well as highlights of text amendments relating to general code cleanups and process improvements. Council approved the amendments 6-1 with Councilor Vincent Chiravalle, who is attending tonight’s meeting by telephone, cast the no vote. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Highlights of Text Amendments Relating to the Special Plan (SP) District:
* Allows site development regulations in an underlying base zone to be modified up to a maximum of 25 percent using a special plan (SP) district; these include minimum lot area, setbacks, structural separation, structure height, lot coverage, street frontage and width of lots, and parking;
* Removes potential conflict over what residential site development regulations would be applied in the case of a special plan (SP) district in a downtown district zone;
* States that a special plan (SP) district application must be submitted with a development plan (formerly referred to as a master plan) or a site plan, and a sketch plan, if a subdivision is proposed; this will enable the Planning and Zoning Commission and County Council to properly evaluate the application;
* Provides clear definitions of a development plan and site plan and the comparative level of detail involved in these types of applications;
* Provides a more detailed definition of a minor development plan amendment as a change which can only modify approved site development standards by up to 20 percent and not increase the project’s approved maximum density or change land uses;
* Establishes separate minimum standards for site development regulations for multiple family dwellings (3 units or more on a lot) vs single family and two-family dwellings, resulting in greater minimum lot size for single family and two-family dwellings in a special plan (SP) district than what is currently allowed;
* Allows the special plan (SP) district to be used in an R-3-H -40 zoning district, along with R-M, R-3-L, R-3-H, PD, P-O, C-1, C-2, C-3, R & D, M-1, M-2 and the downtown district overlay zones;
* Provides a clearer rationale for the use of the special plan (SP) district which is to further implement specific goals of the Comprehensive Plan and the County Council Strategic Leadership Plan;
* Provides explicit review criteria for the Planning and Zoning Commission and County Council evaluation of special plan (SP) applications;
* Clarifies that the review process for a special plan (SP) district and development plan application is for the Planning and Zoning Commission to make a recommendation to County Council for final approval;
* Requires that the development plan and any amendments be recorded in the Clerk’s office along with any subsequent site plans and subdivision sketch plans;
Highlights of Text Amendments Relating to General Code Cleanups and Process Improvements
* Clarifies the Planning and Zoning Commission’s authority to approve or deny applications for a site plan, subdivision sketch plan, and other planning applications;
* Prevents final plats from becoming automatically approved if the Planning and Zoning Commission is unable to arrive at a decision within 35 days after the date of submission;
* States the four year old practice of the county not to accept or approve new applications for the PD zone designation; this currently is included in the Code as a footnote to the Use Index;
* Substitutes one clear net useable floor area definition for several vague definitions; this definition is used to help calculate parking requirements for commercial uses;
* Provides definitions for conceptual landscape plan and final landscape plan, the former which would be submitted with a site plan application and the latter, which would be required for a building permit;
* Pursuant to a previous work session with County Council, reduces the number of site plan review criteria from 13 to eight;
* Eliminates the subdivision requirement for a park dedication;
* Eliminates the rezoning review criteria relating to available development potential;
* Adds a text amendment review criteria which relates to the implementation of the Council strategic plan goal to dramatically simplify and improve the permit process;
* Adds review criteria for a special plan (SP) district application and a comprehensive plan amendment application;
* Adds loft housing as a permitted use to the DT-TCO, DT-NCO and DT-NGO zones;
* Reduces the minimum lot frontage in an R-1-5 zone from 65′ to 50′, to correspond with the minimum lot size standard of 5,000 square feet;
* Changes the language to enable the downtown district zones to be used in White Rock, consistent with the White Rock Center element and boundaries within the Comprehensive Plan.
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