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Thread: Conservation subdivision design ordinance

  1. #1
    planning_chick's avatar
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    Conservation subdivision design ordinance

    As an independent consultnant, I am being asked to come up with a timeframe to draft a conservation design ordinance, as well as additional timeframe to have public hearings and bring it through to adoption. Assuming some have experience with this, about how much time does each of these portions take?

  2. #2
    You should be able to lay out a schedule for public hearings and adoption portion without too much trouble. here, it would be a minimum of three months to get from the legal ad advertising the Plan Commission's PH through the required three readings at City Council.

    I personally think the first part of your question is harder to answer. How sophisticated is the planning environment in the community? How comprehensive is the ordinance likely to be -- a tweaking of the existing ordinance or a complete re-write? Is there consensus about the need/usefulness of such an ordinance? Those are tough to answer, but will give you an idea of how much time is required.

    Hope that helps.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ruralplanner's avatar
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    Here is something we had similar to what you are talking about. 3-4 months tops and I would make sure that your contract holds the community responsible for adoption.


    Project Details: The Planning process will include a total of 3 meetings running 3 to 4 hours in length. Each meeting will include topics relevant to both villages and topics that are unique to each village. Meeting participants will consist of interested members of the Town Board and the Town’s Plan Commission. Participants will also include an appointed Committee composed of interested residents and landowners from each village. Following is a project detail of meetings and activities with associated costs. The total project cost, including time and materials, will not exceed $X unless additional tasks are added, at which time a contract amendment will be required. The Town will be financially responsible for any additional printing costs above those amounts specified and any per diems.


    Task 1. The County will hold one meeting with interested members of the Town Board, Town Plan Commission and Town appointed Committee (hereto referred to as the group) to introduce the planning process and review themes and standards for the development of the master plan and establish goals, a desired focus and commitment, and a format for presenting written guidelines with illustrated site and building design standards. The County will use visual techniques to develop an understanding of design standards that are mutually agreeable by the aforementioned groups. The County will work with the Town to arrange this and subsequent meetings. The County will be responsible for developing meeting agendas and will mail all public notices and agendas and drafts to members of the group. The Town will be responsible for properly posting all meeting notices.
    (Estimated Budget Amount: X)

    Task 2. The County will prepare a preliminary set of written guidelines with illustrated site and building design standards for new commercial, mixed use and residential development for the Villages for review and comment from the group. The written guidelines and illustrated standards will be in black and white and will feature easy-to-follow components intended to be utilized by surveyors, builders, developers and the town in the design of projects. The standards will consider building design, setbacks, orientation, materials, signage, lighting, site design, vehicular and pedestrian interconnectivity, site design aspects of storm water and wastewater management, relationship to the public streetscape opportunities, and landscaping. The County will share copies of this preliminary set of standards with the group (mailed before the second meeting).
    (Estimated Budget Amount: X)
    Task 3. The County will present the preliminary set of written guidelines with illustrated site and building design standards at one meeting to obtain input from the group and members of the public. The Town will be responsible for notifying people of this meeting beyond just posting the meeting, assembling all comments, and making any required additional copies of the standards upon request. The second half of this meeting will address the identification of future growth areas in the Villages of X and X. The County will provide respective maps depicting limitations to development and the identification of possible areas that can support development. Through discussion, the group will identify areas appropriate for future development.
    (Estimated Budget Amount: X)

    Task 4. The County will revise the preliminary set of written guidelines/standards based on the input received from the second group meeting and assemble a draft master plan document inclusive of written guidelines with illustrated site and building design standards and map depicting areas appropriate for future development into a final black and white report for the Town of X. The County will prepare a total of 20 copies of the draft master plan document.
    (Estimated Budget Amount: X)

    Task 5. The County will present the draft master plan document to the group and seek final comments. The County will then prepare 20 copies of the final master plan document and a digital copy of the document for the Town. Following Task 5 the Town will be responsible for adopting the master plan document as a Town Ordinance and as a component to the Town of X Comprehensive Plan.

    (Estimated Budget X)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Is there going to be a steering committee involved in drafting the ordinance or is it more of an independant effort without public input? Public participation will increase the time frame substantially (3 - 4 months).
    Satellite City Enabler

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Ruralplanner, were these design guidelines for a county regional plan? I thought the original post was for a conservation design ordinance, which I am assuming is an amendment to a municipal zoning ordinance. I would agree with most of the approval process, it would just vary according to process outlined in the municipal or county code.

    I disagree in terms of the content produced. I am currently creating conservation subdivision requirements as part of a much larger zoning ordinance update for my client (this is one of their specific zoning oridnance goals outlined in their comprehensive plan). I have focused primarily on standards such as minimum lot size, minimum lot width, required open space, and possibly minimum lot depth, and maximum lot area, etc for conventional zoning. Graphics such as conceptual master plans are only used as aids during the meetings but are not adopted into the ordinance. Personally, I would leave out identifying future growth areas, because this is a zoning/subdivision ordinance update, not a comp plan update.

    Another very important part of conservation subdivision ordinances is how to enforce them. I have seen several adopted "ordinances" which are nothing more than pretty design guidelines that collect dust. This issue was discussed at a recent APA chapter meeting. The community should also devote time to the following:

    1. Creation and maintenance of conservation easements, versus deed restrictions and transfer of development rights.
    2. Financing ongoing resource management through the creation of special service areas (SSAs). This should be included in the annexation agreements.
    3. Discssuing CSDs with existing HOAs to determine resident support for future CSDs

    The majority of the public is still very skeptical abouting CSDs: people like their lawns and their pesticides, would rather mow down those weedy looking native plants, and don't want to have deal with all them burnings. Before you even present conservation design ordinances to anyone, make sure everyone is informed about this design's benefits: erosion control, reducing stormwater runoff, more "healthy land" (better term to use than open space), etc. This might require a separate informative meeting prior to a hearing or a public meeting. If people are still skeptical about CSD's, especially more open space to compensate for smaller lots, you might need to budget a bustour for your commissioners/council members to nearby CSD's for them to get a better "feel" for CSD's.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    How are you getting the input you'll need to draft the ordinance? Has this already been hashed around among the local concerned citizens, elected and appointed officials, or will your draft ordinance be the first they are hearing of such a thing? Unless you have a staffer giving you clear guidance on exactly what's needed (based on prior discussion) you are likely to encounter a learning curve (on your part and on the locals' too) that will take some time. This is especially the case if you are working with a citizen committee in a public forum.

    It sounds like you are intending to come up with a draft of this conservation design ordinance and take it to public hearing. There are steps that you haven't mentioned - getting the input you need to write the thing in the first place, managing the reaction, making revisions, dealing with the hiccups along the way, and then the public hearing and adoption (if the bumps along the way aren't too formidable). Your timeline is "it depends". We don't have enough info from you to give good advice. If you want to find a model conservation design ordinance and take it to public hearing - all you need is the time it takes to publish your notices - but I'd venture to say there's ALWAYS a lot more to it than that.

  7. #7
    planning_chick's avatar
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    This would be an ordinance for a municipality not county. The current zoning does not allow for CSD specifically, though there are provisions for clustering. So we are not starting with a 'rigid' plan. The Planning Commission and Environmental Committee are interested in pursuing this. They would like me to draft the ordinance independently and then introduce it at public hearings for adoption. I realize I could take a model ordinance or just write my own, but either way it needs to fit into the existing zoning without any contradiction.

    btw - thanks for all the responses so far!

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ruralplanner's avatar
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    Yes, original post was for a conservation subdivision design ordinance but also for a process to developing the ordinance, inclusive of a timeframe and obtaining public input. In my last post I attached a scope of services for a master plan that could be remolded to fit what planning chick needs to produce, an actual ordinance—so her scope would not include items such as designating of new lands for development nor would it be as design intensive. It may, however take a similar form in terms of gaining public input, timeframe etc.

    The conceptual master plan in this case was developed for two unincorporated villages and has been adopted as a town Ordinance as a component of the town’s comprehensive plan. What this does is create a level of enforcement, via the comprehensive plan, insofar that the town’s decision to approve a proposed development ‘must be consistent with their comprehensive plan’. Reversed, the developer’s proposal must also be consistent. The master plan for these villages, as referenced in the scope, does not include specifics like minimum lot size, open space requirements, lot area etc. These requirements are specified by a county ordinance. The master plan for the town just takes it a step further by adding graphics to further define what the town wants to achieve.

    I don’t think that it would be inappropriate to include a limited number of graphics in a conservation subdivision ordinance, if it helps the client better administer the ordinance, provided that the graphics are based heavily on ordinance language. While I have not seen this approached used often, I have seen it used occasionally to visually depict a desired outcome, that otherwise is not easily expressed in words.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    I'm currently working on a whole article in our zoning ordinance on conservation subdivisions I'd love to share information.

    I've been working on it for 3 months now on and off to replace our current clustering provision which is 1 paragraph long. I'm up to 5 pages already and assume 2-3 more with pictures to be added later.

    I'd say for all the fact gathering, planning commission approval, and council approval you are talking minimum 6 months more like 9 if the municipality is receptive to the ideas of conservation subdivisions.
    @GigCityPlanner

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