An update from our workshop on Monday:
-We had a very lengthy discussion about density, setbacks, and growth in general with the Planning Board and a panel of representatives from the building and real estate industries. Council ultimately directed the Planning Board to come up with an amendment to the Land Development Code that incorporates a more strategic use of setbacks to ensure that we are managing growth in a responsible and forward-thinking way. Some of the ideas that we kicked around included tying setback requirements to particular geographic areas or zoning districts versus more of the one-size-fits-all approach that we currently use. I noted that that are some areas of the city (particularly down the peninsula and South Point Road) that are already stretched very thin and that we need to be mindful of our approach to those areas so that we don’t make a difficult situation worse.
We agreed to a year-end deadline for a Council vote on the amendment that the Planning Board will work up. In the meantime, Council will take a series of tours of recently completed development projects around town (in our brand new bus!) to get some ideas about what we like and what we don’t like about some of the newer projects that have come through. This is shaping up to be a great focus for the rest of the year, and I think this will help address the concerns that I have heard from many of you.
-We also agreed to make a change to our Water and Sewer Extension Policy that will allow non-annexed properties that have an existing city water line running through the property to connect to the city water system. Sewer system connections will still require annexation, as will any development that requires any sort of infrastructure to be built (such as roads) or any development that results in 8 or more homes connecting to the water system. Non-annexed properties will continue to pay double water rates. This change should greatly simplify the policy, which has changed multiple times over the last five years.