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Thread: Looking for regs to authorize cluster development

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Looking for regs to authorize cluster development

    Our town would like to scrap our sketchy PUD (planned unit development) chapter of the zoning ordinance until we have had time to come up with a better version, but meanwhile would like to have a set of rules to authorize clustering in subdivisions (previously only allowable in PUDs). Concerns include protection of natural topography and drainages, visual impact, density, etc. As the idea is to create something requiring little discretion so it can be used in the regular subdivision process rather than only in PUDs, it has to be pretty simple and clear. Any suggestions or examples? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Here are two examples of model ordinances.

    The first from the Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission:

    http://www.sewrpc.org/modelordinance..._ordinance.doc

    And the second prepared by Brian Ohm of UW-Extension in response to a state mandate:

    http://www.doa.state.wi.us/dhir/docu...ce_Feb2001.pdf

  3. #3
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    wow

    i'm trying to do the opposite - our cluster is too rigid and it's just not working so i'm scrapping it to do a PUD that can also factor in other stuff like affordable units, etc.

    i guess the permitting grass is always greener...

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Luckless pedestrian, I think what you are doing is what we will be doing in the future, but we need a quick fix until we have time to write a good PUD.

    Indigo, the models are great. It looks like they are going to answer all kinds of questions for me, though I'm sure I'll be back with more. Thank you.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The Wisconsin ordinance is good. Here is a resource for Minnesota as well:

    http://server.admin.state.mn.us/resource.html?Id=1927
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  6. #6

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    Our interim regs are on the Town of Williston's web site.

  7. #7
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    Check out the PRD option (Planned Residential Development) in Teton County at: www.tetonwyo.org/plan/ for a density bonus option with required open space preservation. It is mostly to preserve ag land and wildlife habitat. The only PUDs you can do anymore in Teton County are for affordable housing and in desgnated resort areas. Pretty restrictive for the landowner, but okay for clustering and open space preservation.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks to all of you, what a great help. Now, this might be a dumb idea but I'm going to ask anyway, because I'm trying to figure out various ways to encourage collaboration. What if our cluster regulations allowed the subdivider to use a greater percentage of non-buildable land in his density calculation if he 1) procures approval of his plan in writing from all surrounding property owners (presumably after meeting with them as a group to negotiate), and 2) procures a statement from the council that his proposed development would have equal or less overall negative impact on the general taxpayers than a subdivision-by-right? It seems to me that this could result, when successful, in more proposals to cluster; in smarter, lower impact development and more open space; in less of a demand on our all-volunteer planners; and in a happier, more invested community.

  9. #9

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    I have always allowed developers to use non-buildable land in their calculations of density for a cluster development - its a simple form of the transfer of development rights and, if properly designed, can result in more or less permanent protection of open space resources. You do need to limit the use of this option, however, to cases where something of value is protected.

    You can offer an even better incentive, however. Make clustering the subdivision by right option (with an exemption for small parcels that were in existence on the date the ordinance is adotped) and send anyone who wants to do a conventional subdivision through the PUD process.

    Also, a legal hazard. You can NOT, under any circumstances, delegate local decision-making authority to neighbors. That was decided in 1928, in the second zoning case the US Supreme Court heard. It violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

  10. #10
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    We just did this in my town

    We just rewrote our subdivision regulations in their entirety. Cluster/conservation subdivision is now the only choice in our town. But developers can use more of the buildable land if they buy development rights on land in an area that is high priority for preservation in another part of town.

    OUr regs on the Town of Woodstock (CT) website--I'm tooo new to be allowed to post the url but it is town of woodstock dot com. Click on town offices then regulations then subdivision regulations.

    We found the model regs in Randall Arendt's books very useful as a guide.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Make clustering the subdivision by right option (with an exemption for small parcels that were in existence on the date the ordinance is adotped) and send anyone who wants to do a conventional subdivision through the PUD process.
    This is a perfect solution, and some of the links above led me to examples of it. I think some education is in order in our town, since the public apparently doesn't support clustering. But I think that could change, as it would be one way to achieve a lot of the things the public DOES want. Thanks, Lee. And thank you farprof and everyone else.

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    You can NOT, under any circumstances, delegate local decision-making authority to neighbors.
    Oops, duh. Will try to think of a better way. Thanks again.

  12. #12

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    People out West have odd ideas about "clustering." I learned not to use that word until people had already understood and agreed on the concept. It seems to be more acceptable as "open space development."

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    People out West have odd ideas about "clustering." I learned not to use that word until people had already understood and agreed on the concept. It seems to be more acceptable as "open space development."

    That makes me laugh, because I thought I was being so smart to avoid using the term "conservation development"... Thanks for the tip.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    You can offer an even better incentive, however. Make clustering the subdivision by right option (with an exemption for small parcels that were in existence on the date the ordinance is adotped) and send anyone who wants to do a conventional subdivision through the PUD process.
    Not getting much enthusiasm over that idea (though I like it), but what do you think about having one-acre density cluster subdivision as an option in a zone where you can grid-subdivide into 2.5 acre lots by right?

  15. #15

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    Well, if you have 40 acres, this means you get 16 lots. So, instead of dividing up the entire 40, you would ideally build on only 16 acres, leaving 24 open. Given the need for a road, it probably means you would build on 20, leave 20 open. If the 20 is valuable open space (riparian, scenic, habitat) it is a reasonable trade. If you are trying to protect ag land, it probably isn't.

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