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Thread: PUD applicability question

  1. #1

    PUD applicability question

    My supervisor does not have a planning background and she seems to think that PUD's are specifically for saving the developer money in the application process. Pay for one PUD instead of multiple variances, etc. I'm of the mindset that the PUD is a tool to offer developer some measure of flexibility in exchange for some measurable benefit to the development. HELP! How can I bring her around and start to put some teeth into how we apply this?

    Yes, I'm a newer professional, and the only one with any planning training where I work.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    PUD's can be great tools to look at a project as a whole - in the PUD I just put through here, it also includes incentives to get affordable housing, green housing and amenities as recreation space, open space and pedestrian/bike facilities - it's hard to do that kind of work with conventional zoning

    the method your supervisor says developers are avoiding is a piecemeal method whereby the Boards just see pieces of the picture and not the whole picture until it gets constructed

    PUD's also allow for negotiations with the developer which you can't really do in a variance deliberation

    good luck - planning boss with no planning? you have my sympathies

  3. #3
          bluehour's avatar
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    I searched the site but cannot find a good definition of PUD.

    Help, please?

    Maybe I'm missing the Planning Acronyms thread?

    Thanks and sorry to lower the level of converstation.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bluehour
    I searched the site but cannot find a good definition of PUD. Help, please?
    Planned Unit Development (PUD): one project (often multi-use) built on one or more parcels under one universal permit. PUDs allow a developer more flexibility to preserve usable open space, provide infrastructure and better integrate mixed-uses into the greater development than traditional subdivision and zoning ordinances. PUDs also give the municipality more power to shape the overall layout and design of the larger project.

  5. #5
          bluehour's avatar
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    thanks... they don't do zoning as such here so I've never run up against it.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Must be an Illinois thing. When I worked in Illinios my boss didn't have a planning education/background either. I don't know what your ordinance says, as far as PUD requirements, but they usually have to offer something special... some amenities that wouldn't necessarily come with the package if several smaller rezonings or variances were granted. But, a rising problem is my area are developers going the PUD route, because it isn't a rezoning, so neighbors can't file legal protests. And their only reason for claiming PUD is because there is shared open space in the plan. But the open space is just an outlot for water retention/detention, that would be required regardless!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    In my jurisdiction, a PUD gets used both the way that your boss defines it and the way you'd like it defined. Basically, it gets to be a silver bullet for developers who have a "better" design for a project and need waivers for the regs, but they don't have a hardship per se and wouldn't get a variance. In our regs, however, we have language that really stresses that a PUD is a tradeoff- the developer gets the waivers, but the community gets a better-designed project. And we try to push that when we do all of our pre-project meetings with developers.

    It helps if your regs spell it out, though. Good luck!

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    Planned Unit Development (PUD): one project (often multi-use) built on one or more parcels under one universal permit. PUDs allow a developer more flexibility to preserve usable open space, provide infrastructure and better integrate mixed-uses into the greater development than traditional subdivision and zoning ordinances. PUDs also give the municipality more power to shape the overall layout and design of the larger project.


    OR

    Planned Unit Development (PUD): one project (often single use and cookie-cutter) that allows a developer to create his own setbacks (since that is the level of imagination that local builders operate on) without giving anything back to the public in exchange. The City Council, who are mostly builders and developers too, love PUDs and routinely approve them without regard to the public benefit that should come from them.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I am always reluctant to use PUDs. In effect, each becomes its own zoning district. Imagine the difficulty of trying to monitor two or three hundred different districts. We can create a monster.

    I have seen communities use PUDs for nearly every new development that comes along. Often enough, there is no real justification for it. If there are any exceptions to the underlying zoning district, they tend to be small and suggest that maybe it would be wiser to amend the zoning ordinance instead.

    Where a PUD may be justified, it is not to allow the developer to circumvent public process or variance procedures. We have rarely allowed fundemental changes from lot coverage, open space, setbacks, or similar issues through the use of a PUD. Again, if these are issues, it is better to amend your code to allow flexibility. For instance, if you require 35% open space and frequently have developers try to reduce this through a PUD, you might write your code to allow the plan commission to reduce the open space requirement to 25% if certain conditions are met, such as additional landscaping, etc. By this route, you allow flexibility while also setting a lower limit and additional expectations.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cch
    But, a rising problem is my area are developers going the PUD route, because it isn't a rezoning, so neighbors can't file legal protests.
    I've never heard of a PUD being considered anything but a zoning category.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
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    PUDs are very common here, not only because they allow some flexibility for the developer but because they provide a comfort level to the approving entity as well as to neighbors. They know what will be there, whereas if they just approve to a straight commercial category, for example, the possibilities could range from a small office to a concrete plant. PUD's, imo, aren't designed to save anyone money or to circumvent any type of hearing process (or appeal process). It is used to avoid multiple variances on a site but not for money purposes. The boards here would deny multiple variances, wondering why something was designed so contrary to code. A PUD, on the other hand, would have conditions or a specific design that would (hopefully) justify those deviations from code such as increased open space, buffers, clustering, or whatever.

    Maybe you can show your supervisor some examples of good PUD's in your area - a lot of jurisdictions and larger developments are putting the plans online now. Sounds like this won't be the last time you have to teach Planning 101 at work.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I'm assuming that when you say your boss sees a PUD as a way for developers to get around the community's development standards, that you're also saying she's therefore hesitant to look into a PUD ordinance or she's hesitant to revise an existing PUD ordinance to make it work better? Or are you saying that she's purposefully interpreting the PUD ordinance in a way that allows developers to do whatever they want?
    It's a little unclear, and those are 2 completely different situations.
    However, if it's the first situation, and you're going to put together a report or memo to give to your boss to explain the purpose and function of a PUD ordinance, there are plenty of resources & websites that you can look at online to help you craft some language, or go back and look at a couple APA articles on the topic. If I were you, I'd include a 1-page executive summary on top of the memo with an easy-to-read definition of what a PUD is (look at Pace Law School's website - they've got a summary paper on PUDs). In dealing with a layperson, don't assume that they are familiar with anything. Take them step-by-step through whatever concept or process you're trying to explain, and give them an example of a well-designed project and point out how the PUD process helped in getting to the end result.
    If it's the 2nd situation, then I not only sympathize with you, I empathize with you, and my only advice is lay low until she's gone or until you decide to quit and work elsewhere. I personally chose the quit and work elsewhere when I found myself in a similar hostile work environment (oh the stories I could tell you - would make your eyes bug out!).
    Anyway, good luck.

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