Ocean View Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission Members on Jan. 20 moved into a holding pattern on a zoning ordinance aimed at reducing density.
The entire commission was present, as were Mayor Gary Meredith and Council Member Eric Magill.
Town attorney Dennis Schrader advised the commission that the ordinance had enjoyed a first reading at the council, and land use planner Kyle Gulbronson had added his comments for a Jan. 18 work session.
Schrader and Magill went round and round at that work session regarding the best way to produce the desired reduction in density.
As Schrader pointed out, council had repeatedly changed the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) in the year following its most recent revision (January 2004).
With those revisions, they’ve reduced max densities from eight per acre to five.
Magill has stated quite clearly that he thinks five is still too many, and council should ensure densities no greater than three units per acre.
“This came up when we were doing our CLUP revision,” Magill said. “We found out the way it was set up, it could allow five units to the acre.
“I went ahead with it because I was told we’d never get close to five — but we forgot about the subdivision ordinance,” he said.
The CLUP created a loophole in District 3, which allows a mixture of housing types, including townhouses and/or multifamily dwellings.
If those projects came in as residential-planned communities (RPCs), there would be less of a problem.
Developers could build multifamily, but fully 50 percent of the homes would have to be single-families. Other design requirements would further reduce density.
However, no such design requirements would affect subdivisions in District 3.
Another ordinance in the works, which commission members reviewed that same night, would limit subdivisions to a maximum 10 acres (anything larger would have to come in as an RPC).
The commission forwarded council a unanimous recommendation for approval on that ordinance.
It would take care of the large tracts of land, but still leave the possibility of small, dense subdivisions in District 3. (On a side note, council also tweaked that ordinance to keep multifamily out of RPCs in District 2 — Old Town — altogether.)
And so, in an effort to reduce density by the fastest road, avoiding another change to the CLUP, an ordinance removing certain areas from total acreage when calculating density — in subdivisions — made its way before the P&Z on Jan. 20.
P&Z Chairman Dick Logue said he agreed with the philosophy behind the presented ordinance.
However, following the lengthy discussion at the work session two days earlier, an alternate route toward the three units per acre objective appeared.
“The real problem that we have is not subdivisions,” Magill said. “It’s the fact that we have townhouses and multifamily in subdivisions.”
Schrader said a possible way to accomplish that would be going back to the CLUP and taking subdivisions out of uses “by right” in District 3.
As Magill pointed out, in the course of talking with Schrader and County P&Z Director Lawrence Lank, he’d learned the county didn’t allow townhouses in subdivisions.
“It makes sense to me — if the county doesn’t allow it, why should we,” asked Commission Member Jeanne Mueller.
She moved the commission postpone making any recommendation on the density computation ordinance, and wait for council to suggest another method of accomplishing reduced densities.
The vote was unanimous for postponement, but Magill reminded the commission that Gulbronson hadn’t discouraged the passage of both a density computation ordinance and an ordinance restricting uses in District 3.
The District 3 ordinance should appear on the Feb. 1 agenda (regular town council meeting) for introduction.
Changes to District 3 mean a revised CLUP, and that will need state approval — which is what council had hoped to avoid by tackling the issue through density calculations.
State approval takes time, and Ocean View will need to extend the moratorium on new subdivisions if they decide to go that route (until April 30).
Council members have made a few changes to the 10-acre max subdivision ordinance, so they will need to reintroduce it on Feb. 1 as revised. They may dispose of the current density computation ordinance at that time.