September 8, 2010
PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES OF MEETING
A quorum being present at Centerville City Hall, 250 North Main Street, Centerville, Utah. The meeting of the Centerville City Planning Commission was called to order at 7:00 p.m.
OPENING COMMENT/LEGISLATIVE PRAYER Commissioner Holbrook
MINUTES REVIEW AND APPROVAL
Minutes of the Planning Commission meeting held August 25, 2010 were reviewed and amended. Commissioner Fillmore made a motion to approve the minutes as amended. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Holbrook and passed by unanimous vote (5-0).
DISCUSSION - GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT AND ZONING TEXT AMENDMENT - SOUTH MAIN STREET CORRIDOR PLAN (BETWEEN PARRISH LANE TO PAGES LANE) – Discussion on the adoption of a General Plan Amendment, Section 12-480-7, South Main Street Corridor Plan; and changes to the Zoning Ordinance, Chapter 12-48, South Main Street Corridor Zone, between Parrish Lane and Pages Lane. Centerville City, Applicant.
Cory Snyder, Community Development Director, reminded the Commission the South Main Street Corridor Plan (SMSCP) was established and adopted in 2008. The application before the Commission tonight is to discuss possible edits to the SMSCP documents that are already in place. The Commission is not being asked to dictate new policy. If the Commission feels there are problems with the context of the SMSCP documents already in place then those may be discussed in another process, but the application before the Commission tonight is to discuss and then deny or recommend the edits as presented. Mr. Snyder explained the process of the inception and subsequent adoption of the SMSCP, including all opportunities for public participation throughout the process. The proposed edits to the SMSCP documents come from the South Main Street Oversight Committee (Committee) who was asked to reconvene following public outcry due to a UTA report that mass transit may be a possibility on Main Street in Centerville. The Committee has reviewed the SMSCP documents and recommends changes. The Planning Commission is being asked to review those recommendations and then recommend or deny those same edits to the City Council for their review.
Mr. Snyder explained the Committee identified six (6) topics for review. He also explained the Committee’s recommendation regarding each topic. They are as follows:
• “Rail” or “Mass Transit” language
Recommendation: Eliminate all “rail” or “mass transit” language from the SMSCP documents. The SMSCP is intended to be a land use plan only, not a transit plan.
• Distinction between the Core and the Traditional Districts
Recommendation: Keep the distinction in front-yard setbacks as already established. Reduce or increase building heights to a maximum of 3-stories or 35 feet.
• “Transit-Oriented Design” or TOD vs. “Traditional Neighborhood Design” or TND.
Recommendation: Replace the term “transit-oriented design” or TOD with “traditional neighborhood design” or TND. The SMSCP is not intended to promote transit development.
• Conditional Use Permit Density
Recommendation: Keep the conditional use permit density of 5-8 units per building as already established within the SMSCP documents.
• Building Height Allowance within the TND Lot Type
Recommendation: Reduce building heights to a maximum of 3-stories or 35 feet (current ordinance allows up to 4-stories). This provides consistency throughout the Main Street Corridor. This is also consistent with the current permitted heights for single-family homes within the city.
• “Substantial Alteration” definition
Recommendation: Copy existing ordinance waivers or modification allowances into the SMSCP documents to clarify or reflect options for existing development with non-conforming situations.
Mr. Snyder said the public hearing that was held (regarding this application) at the Commission’s last meeting (August 25, 2010) seemed to focus on three topics: conditional use permit density, non-conformities, and public notification.
Conditional Use Permit Density
Mr. Snyder said one citizen raised concern regarding the conditional use permit density of 5-8 units per building. It was said that this density could allow up to 900 units between City Hall and Porter Lane. Mr. Snyder said the SMSCP permits only 1-4 units per building. The possibility of 5-8 units per building is granted only with a conditional use permit. The process for a conditional use permit is more stringent and requires mitigation of negative impacts. Conditional use permits are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and the property owner must prove all negative impacts can be mitigated and all applicable ordinances can be followed, i.e., setbacks, landscaping, parking, etc. Density was purposely set per building and not by acreage in order to introduce these uses in a limited way and to keep it compatible with other surrounding uses. Mr. Snyder said the alleged possibility of 900 units is a gross over-estimation. Mr. Snyder provided the following calculations for explanation.
28 buildings x 8 units per building = 224 units
Mr. Snyder said there are currently only 28 buildings between City Hall and Porter Lane. However, there are 42 properties, so there is a possibility of 42 buildings in the future. If, for some future reason, those 42 properties were able to have two buildings each it is still not possible to reach the alleged 900 units. The only way to reach the 900 units is to include both the north (Parrish Lane) and south (Pages Lane) Main Street corridors and with that you would still need an additional 29 buildings to meet the 900 unit calculation. The 900-unit calculation is not realistic, even the calculations provided are not realistic because they do not take into account landscaping, parking, setbacks, and/or other regulations that would also limit the number of units possible. The SMSCP is a land use plan designed to provide feasible and flexible opportunities for property owners. (Note: Chair Pedersen said the citizen who raised the issue of 900 units never provided their calculations for review. If these calculations are available, the Commission is still willing to review them.)
Overall, the Commission agreed the 5-8 units per building is appropriate. This density is only granted per conditional use permit, which requires greater compliance and a more stringent review process involving staff, the Planning Commission, and the City Council. The Commission agreed the principles set forth in the SMSCP are sound and provide property owners the opportunity to create solutions for their properties. Ordinances are also flexible. If at any time these principles seem to lead the City in an unforeseen direction, they can be changed.
Mr. Snyder explained non-conforming regulations are set by State law. If new ordinances are established, those new ordinances cannot be applied to all properties retroactively. This is prohibited. Properties that are no longer in compliance with current regulations, because of a change in ordinance, are deemed “grand-fathered” or non-compliant. However, once a property owner chooses to make certain changes, alterations, or upgrades to their property, they are then required to come into compliance with the new ordinances. This is the intent of the “substantial alteration” definition/clause. Centerville’s ordinances allow a non-conformity to remain as long as less than 30% of a building or 50% of a premises is changed. Once the changes surpass those percentages then the property owner is required to comply with current ordinances. In addition, if a use requires a new certificate of occupancy, the property owner is again required to come into compliance. If there is too much opportunity before compliance with new ordinances is required, then an overall change in the direction of new ordinances will never occur. Mr. Snyder said non-conforming regulations should be consistent throughout a city. Centerville’s non-conforming regulations are city wide, with one exception. Generally, the SMSCP mirrors the regulations already in practice across the city.
Mr. Snyder discussed “abandonment.” The City does not force property owners to abandon uses. If a property owner chooses to abandon a use, and that use is abandoned for 12 consecutive months, then the City considers the use terminated. That use may continue again in the future if the use is still permitted under the current ordinances. In the case of a single-family home mentioned during the last public hearing, the home has been abandoned for several years. That home may not be used again as a single-family home because the current zoning ordinances do not permit a single-family home in this area. This regulation has been in effect since about 1985. The SMSCP will now allow a residential use within the home, but only as part of a mixed-use commercial development. The Planning Commission could choose to lighten the non-compliance regulations, but would the ideas and principles of the SMSCP ever be implemented if there is leniency?
Commissioner Fillmore questioned the traditional house lot definitions within the SMSCP. She said a traditional house lot type is allowed in various districts and the definition says the ground level of a traditional house lot “may” be used for a commercial use. It does not require it. She asked where in the SMSCP is it distinguished that a traditional house lot must be used as part of a mixed-use within specific districts.
Mr. Snyder said the language describing each individual district distinguishes the need for a mixed-use. The parameters of a traditional house lot type are general because it can be applied in more than one district. Once a property owner decides which lot type they would like to use, then the parameters will be measured according to the district in which that lot type is placed. Mr. Snyder explained a mixed-use could be done horizontally, attaching a single-family to a commercial use to either side of it. This may be possible in the case of the home previously mentioned. The only thing not permitted is a stand-alone residential use on an independent lot. A residential use must be associated with a commercial use in the mixed-use districts.
The majority of the Commissioners agreed the “substantial alteration” or “non-conforming” regulations should remain as currently established.
Mr. Snyder distributed current City ordinances regarding public notification. Current regulations require a 10-day newspaper notice, a 10-day mailing to “affected entities” (public not private), and posting of the notice in three (3) public places or on the City’s website (Centerville does both). Centerville complies with all these regulations for each application. In addition, the Zoning Administrator has the discretion to consider additional noticing options. These “courtesy notices” are the sole discretion of the Zoning Administrator and cannot be challenged. Centerville goes above and beyond the State requirements for both noticing and public hearings. Policies and ordinances can always be improved upon, but this is not the time to do so. If the Planning Commission feels the public noticing regulations need to be changed, that should be done with a separate process and not as part of this application.
Lisa Romney, City Attorney, cautioned the Planning Commission that additional notices for one application and not another can cause legal ramifications, public noticing needs to be fair and consistent with all applications. At times there are applications (such as policy changes) that warrant additional noticing or a broader range of noticing and this is why the Zoning Administrator is granted discretion for “courtesy notices.”
Commissioner Kjar is concerned there may be some noticing standards that are not utilized by the public and should be changed for other options, i.e., postings on utility bill, or on-site postings. Mr. Snyder agreed there may be standards that are not utilized by the public, but they are still the current standard (per State law) and the public should follow those expectations if they would like to participate.
Commissioner Fillmore questioned the standard for continuing public hearings. Should public hearings always be closed or held open from one meeting to another?
Mr. Snyder said if an issue will be discussed again relatively soon, then the public hearing could be continued to a specific date. If an issue is to carry on for several months before a decision is made, then the public hearing should be closed and re-opened at a later date if necessary. In this case the public hearing would be re-noticed.
Ms. Romney agreed. She said the Commission was correct in how they handled the public hearing regarding this application. Now, after tonight’s discussion, a new public hearing can be noticed and directed accordingly. Staff has no problem noticing as standards dictate, but when you choose to go above and beyond those standards complications may arise. Any changes to the noticing standards will affect all meetings/entities, not just the Planning Commission.
Ms. Romney explained the State website does offer the option of registering an email address, once registered a personal notice will be sent to that address automatically. Mr. Snyder said the utility bill may be an option for some “courtesy notices.” This may not work for all meetings because the utility bill is only sent out once a month and the timing is not conducive to the schedule of meetings. It was mentioned that the utility bill could be used for applications that affect the city as a whole, such as policy decisions. However, there was also concern that this may still be unfair to other applications and that the public must take some responsibility in keeping themselves informed.
Chair Pedersen made a motion to stop the discussion of public notices in conjunction with this application. The Planning Commission may choose to discuss the issue of public noticing standards at a later date as part of its own process and review. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Rasmussen and passed with a 4-2 vote. Commission Kjar and Commissioner Markham opposed. Commissioner Markham said the City could do a better job in noticing applications.
Commissioner Fillmore said the public has been adequately informed regarding the proposed edits to the SMSCP, including 147 personal mailings to affected property owners and there are still complaints. Most likely there will never be a policy that will keep everyone informed in a way they prefer. However, there is no hurry in approving the proposed SMSCP edits and suggested tabling the issue until the Planning Commission can make changes to the public noticing standards.
Mr. Snyder agreed there is no hurry, but said the issues have been discussed at length by both the Oversight Committee and now the Commission. The Mayor has also expressed a desire to see these issues resolved. It may be prudent for the Commission to move forward at this time. He also said the public is under the impression an additional public hearing will be held as part of this application and suggested the Commission set a date for such. A future public hearing will be noticed according to City ordinance. Mr. Snyder will also send out the additional 147 personal mailings, will post the information on various sites along the South Main Street Corridor, and, if possible, will post the information on the next utility bill.
Commissioner Kjar made a motion for the Planning Commission to hold the continued public hearing regarding the SMSCP edits at the Planning Commission meeting to be held on Wednesday, October 13, 2010. The public hearing will be noticed according to City ordinance. In addition, the public hearing information will be mailed to the 147 private property owners as done previously and the information will be posted on-site at various locations along the South Main Street Corridor. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Fillmore and passed by unanimous roll-call vote (6-0).
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR’S REPORT
a. The next regularly scheduled Planning Commission meeting will be held on September 22, 2010.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.