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Residential Land Development Code 4/27/2021 Workshop

The agenda can be found below.

More than anything this meeting could have been called Land Development Code review. The material I will reference is here if you would like to go through it all.

The LDC (Land Development Code) is probably the most impactful legislative issue council takes up that can impact residents – so it is well worth the review. The LDC has been tackled over the past couple years in sections. This is mainly related to residential LDC issues. Last year we voted on commercial issues. Full disclosure on my ‘then and now’ perspective of legislation in this area. I was told, back when we voted on the LDC commercial changes, that we can easily modify elements and that we would in fact review some minor areas in the summer that several of us expressed some concern about, even though we largely believed most of the changes were good ones. Hindsight is 20-20. I will tell you that unless staff wants the changes to occur, they won’t. We are only now looking at one issue regarding signs that we wanted to review last spring., and that won’t be voted on by council until August. Many of the changes in this document are aimed at streamlining approval processes. But in streamlining the process, which means ‘provide administrative approval’ rather than board approval, those decisions are in the hands of staff, not residents. I have some person experience in this area… experiences I am never likely to forget. Because of my personal experience I will not likely provide staff much more administrative authority than they currently have. Enough about that. On to the document.

Sign Code – Section 1207.17. Summary – Acme is not Main Street. This is an item we wanted reviewed last year. Better late than never. Sign sizes are restricted to maintain a historic downtown ambiance, but the Acme plaza is included in this same area. Most people would agree Acme is more like the Ace / Drugmart plaza area. Many businesses don’t face the street. It is not a pedestrian trafficked area. Acme is D5 and Ace is D7 – so we are looking at loosening acme reg’s to make them a bit more like D7, allowing more window and sign use. Keep in mind we are still not enforcing most LDC regulations because of Covid and the understanding that businesses need every hand they can get.

Drive-Thru restaurants. Staff would like them. We have one (McDonalds, given permission under old township regulations). I don’t think they add to Hudson. Further down in the document you will see possible allowances for walk-up window service. I like that… I think it adds to Hudson. We have a plethora of drive-thrus on every edge of Hudson in almost every direction. None of them look great and adding them to our city seems unnecessary.

Streamline permit process. A few changes, yes and no and no for me. Yes on the ability for staff to administratively review 400sq feet additions, up from 250sq feet. Probably a no on allowing staff to administratively approve building footprint changes from 10% in industrial districts to 50%. So 10% is a minor change. 50% can be the size of a new building. That’s too much. 20%?, maybe. We are going to see how many requests have fallen into the 10%-50% area before we decide this. The 3rd item, which is also probably a no, is removal of the Historic District changes so all of those can be administratively reviewed rather than go through the AHBR. The AHBR is Architectural and HISTORIC Board of Review. Historic district changes need to remain with the AHBR.

Accessory Dwelling Units – Section 1206.03. It’s funny that these have always been permitted downtown (D4 & D5) where you have very little land comparatively speaking, but not outside of downtown. With people looking for more land, and still wanting to have aging parents or loved ones living with us, this makes sense.

Narrow but deep residential lots. Change setback requirements for accessory structures like swing-sets and playgrounds, which do not require permits but are required to meet setback regulations, to be much closer to property lines (3ft). That helps these types of lots. I looked at one lot that was 100ft wide but acres deep. They could hardly use 30% of the land because of setback issues. Separately we are looking at small agricultural use changes this summer. A chicken coop must be 50 feet from a property line. If you lot is 100 feet wide, and you have to have 50 feet on either side setback… they better be skinny chickens.

COVID Response: This is where staff is looking at walk-up windows, curbside pickup, right of way dining etc. It seems to me that this adds to our lives and does not detract in any way.

Architectural design standards. Staff is suggesting we not require skirting on decks. Currently if your desk is more than 18 inches above ground, you are required to skirt the deck as to provide a solid appearance. We had some mixed debate on this. Personally, I think it provides a better finished look. But a deck can be built in the back and still appear nice/professional without skirting. What are your thoughts? Also – ban chain link fencing completely. There are very few permitted applications of chain link as is.

Some clarification on siding installation and how it needs to be staggered / blended as materials change. If it simply states the same rules we have been using as guidelines I think it is fine to spell it out. I don’t think we need new rules for this.

Some clarification around glass block use for windows – we don’t allow it generally but if it is against the ground, ie a basement window, it is acceptable.

There is a minor issue with garage massing and placement if the home is more than 130 feet from the street. Rules in 1 section allow for flexibility when this far off the street, which conflict with another section that doesn’t allow a street facing garage door. Not a new rule, just cleaning up conflicting statements.

Administrative Improvements: Several but I will list the meaningful items. Commercial minimum lot width on arterial roads requires 200ft lot width, consider revising to 100ft. I would like to know how many times this has been a problem before changing it. Minimum lot width in district 3 requires 150ft residential lot size, whereas district 1 is only 100ft. Change district 3 to match district 1. I did not sense a lot of problems with this. Wetlands in D6 and D8 have 100ft setback requirements, consider changing it to 50ft to align with some residential zoning. I am against this. D6/8 are industrial/commercial zones. A business building mass may have run-off that is higher than a residence, and thus it makes sense that commercial buildings be required to have more wetland setback. I would leave it as is. Allow more flexible signs for places of worship and assembly. Garage orientation for attached and townhome project clarification.

Assisted Living: Possibly remove assisted living facilities as a permitted use in D8. D8 is intended for commercial/industrial development, which an assisted living facility is not. We already have 3 in D8 which would be grandfathered in.

Martin Drive (dead-end street on the south side of 303 right before the RT8 underpass): It was zoned for commercial use 20 years ago. It has not seen any commercial development, while the residents living there have been restricted from adding on to their homes. The suggestion is to leave the lots adjacent to 303 commercial, while merging the homes south on the street back into D1 so they are zoned normal-residential. Sure.

Darrowville (a small section around 91 just before you hit Norton Rd - see blog image). There is a long presentation about this area – extending Georgetown road through 91 to the west side, connecting it with Hudson drive, granting access to 80 acres of land for development. The presentation shows townhomes and mixed uses. Its funny because staff suggested strengthening D8 zoning for commercial use, but this shows the area would be mixed residential. Its D9, but adjacent to D8 (surrounded by D8). D9 (Darrowville) is an island. Council was mixed and asked for more details.

Combine the D7Overlay into D7 entirely. We skipped this because council has not even voted on approval of a D7 overlay yet. That overlay would allow townhomes and mixed residential uses in D7. If we did approve the overlay, and then merged the overlay and entire district, it would allow a large corridor for apartment/townhouse use. Just to be upfront and honest, I'm not a fan.

The only real legislation we will act on in the coming meeting is park board related.

Accepting their master plan, which I think might be missing a dog park and a couple tiny elements before it is accepted.

And we will formally request a quote for the Tennis and Pickle Ball court design as approved by the park board.

Elements to be included:

Drawing of complex:

Questions or concerns, please let me know. -Chris

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