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Holding Districts and Adequate Public Facilities

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Any of yoos folks working with zoning codes (by-laws for our cannuck friends) that use Holding Districts or require Adequate Public Facilities findings?

They're foreign concepts here in Wisconsin. Here's our situation:

35.6 square mile community, about one third developed, one third marsh or surface water, and one third undeveloped.

Our state's (new and not drafted with the assistance of planners!) Smartgrowth legislation requires that by December 31, 2010, the city's adopted zoning maps must exactly match the designations of the comprehensive plan. As a rule of thumb, we've always kept things in Agricultural Zones until developments are proposed and approved, and rezone to ultimate use at the time of final plan approvals. To essentially pre-zone 8,000 acres of land to its ultimate use is insane and will lead to sprawl -- the antithesis of smartgrowth!

So.... As we are currently drafting a new Zoning Ordinance, I'm thinking we can tackle the issue through Overlay Districts requiring large lot sizes (15 to 50 acres depending on the intensity of the underlying ultimate zoning), and stipulating that the holding district can only be removed following Council's findings that Adequate Public Facilities are present or will be made present within 24 months.

Do you think I'm heading in the right direction?
 

OhioPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
304
Points
11
You can structure toe Public Facilities ordinance in a number of ways. Many set specific standards before development can occur. You don't necessarily have to tie it to the zoning, it could be at the time of plat or building permit.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Hmmmm...

Just wondering... have you received an opinion from the State about what "consistency" means in the legislation? I read through (quickly) the legislation changes, and it looks similar to the elements and requirements of General Plans in California. If I remember correctly, in California even though the land use map shows specific land uses, Urban Reserve (or similar) zones could be used to control growth, as long as there was discussion or policies in the land use element of the General Plan that backed up the reasons behind the Urban Reserve districts.

I think that Wisconsin is similar, as it doesn't say the the maps have to match exactly... it just says that actions (including adoption of the zoning ordinance) have to be consistent overall to the comprehensive plan (not just the land use map).

So, if I were in your shoes, I would contact someone at the State and try to pass this off with them:

Try an approach like having language in your comprehensive plan in the land use element that explains that although the land use plan depicts future land use for the next 20/25/however many years your plan covers, only those lands that are serviceable (as determined by your capital facilities element) within 10 years (or however often you update your master plan) will be zoned in conformance with the land use map and that the balance of the land will be held in Urban Reserve zoning until the next comprehensive plan update. At the next update you can do the service analysis as part of the capital facilities plan again and then update the zoning map accordingly.

I'm not sure if that made sense... hmmmm... let me know if I'm just babbling here. But it seems like the overlay zone is cumbersome and doesn't really provide a policy framework for the future growth of the town.

I'm interested to see what happens... so post the outcome. :)
 
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Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I'm not sure if "ignore" is the right term to use to characterize our reaction to the law. For now, we are continuing to use our ag transtional zoning classification. Of course, we are not in the midst of updating our comp plan and don't expect to do it for some time.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
A few suggestions

1) look at some plans and zoning by-laws from ontario, I am 95% sure they enable a holding zone and have the specifics set out in the Planning Act of what needs to be considered.

2) We divided our City into three areas to deal with servicing related growth issues. 1)serviced/readily servicable, 2) May need services in the next 15-25 years, 3) Never going to be serviced.

To determine these items we looked at location and capacity of existing services, topographic divide and general location of properties and development trends.

In our Plan there are "policies" (goals) and "proposals" (objectives) outline the expectations of council and the obligations of developers in each area.

Hope this helps, if I can find my copy of the Ontario Act and notes I'll add more.
[EDIT]
See section 34 of the ontario Act
http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca:81/ISYSquery/IRLFB7A.tmp/153/doc
[/EDIT]
 
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Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Nerudite - We've received legal opinions that tell us that "consistent" follows through to mapping districts and uses. ie - lands planned residential but zoned agricultural are inconsistent.

Mike - Not a bad approach. There's a movement afoot to get the law repealed but we're not counting on it.

Donk - In my research I have found the best information out of Canadian provinces!
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
bturk said:
Nerudite - We've received legal opinions that tell us that "consistent" follows through to mapping districts and uses. ie - lands planned residential but zoned agricultural are inconsistent.
That is so bizarre... I wonder if in the next seven years they will change it to make more sense. Good luck!
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
29
You Wisconsin planners need to think very carefully about criticizing that legislation, or maybe spend some time doing planning someplace where your main job every day is demonstrating that even the concept of planning is not treasonous …_There are very few states where local planning has the kind of support at the state level that it has in WI, and as near as I can tell all of them impose even more requirements on what local governments can do. I spent some time trying to help a rural county comply with Washington's Growth Management Act a few years ago and that was very interesting …

People in a lot of states live with some degree of direction, either in the statutes or court-made, that zoning has to match the plan. It isn't quite as literal as the opinions you are quoting (Nerudite expressed the majority view -- that you don't have to zone to match your plan immediately, but that WHEN you re-zone it has to match), but it seems to me that there are lots of ways to address this, even if you think the Wisconsin courts will be so literal (which courts in other states with similar requirements have not been).

An APFO is one of the ways to address this, and as I recall Maryland DOP has an interesting publication on APFO's that you can order at its web site. Combining an APFO with the low density overlays as you are proposing doesn't sound unworkable to me, although it is kind of jury-rigged.

I wonder, given that I know you have done good work on open space, why not: 1) adopt a long term open space framework map into the plan (that isn't going to change the way your perception of other land use needs might, or at least it shouldn't); 2) stop abusing an ag zone by using it as a holding zone (it aggravates us farmland preservation types), 3) revise the plan to show areas where you can't, or don't want to (as I think you shouldn't), predict the future land use pattern as a holding zone that is explicitly labelled as such, zone to match; and 4) adopt a series of explicit detailed performance standards for re-zonings that include respecting the open space framework, the presence of adequate facilities (actually I guess I should add a step for a CIP, which would be essential to this suggestion), compatibility, etc. You won't have a conventional future land use map in the plan, but: a) you don't really want one or wouldn't be complaining about this requirement in the first place, b) your approach will be explicitly market-based, which will make everyone very happy in these pseudo-conservative times (and is not necessarily a bad thing), and c) you will have predictability about how land use changes are made based on standards rather than a map, which in my estimation is a far more useful type of predictability. Future land use maps are a very simple tool for dealing with a very complex reality and that always makes me nervous.

As a final thought for all the Wisconsin Cyburbanites, I know people in the 1000 Friends, etc, seem very naive to professional planners. But as a planner who does lots of work with non-profits, I am wondering who else you think your friends really are? We have all worked in places where the planners enjoyed a cushy relationship with the powers-that-be, and that can be highly desirable. But the powers-that-be change sometimes, and sometimes they change their minds if the right person suggests that they do so (we just got really blind-sided on one of our projects, so I am quite sensitive about this). Grousing about people who really care about these issues and, on average, are committed in the long run, seems seriously short-sighted to me.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,885
Points
38
bturk said:
Nerudite - We've received legal opinions that tell us that "consistent" follows through to mapping districts and uses. ie - lands planned residential but zoned agricultural are inconsistent.
Interesting....we I guess get around that since our predominant zoning district is AR-I (Agricultural/Residential). We also have statutory requirements for consistency between Master Plans and zoning, but courts here have consistently found that it need not be an exact and literal match from the plan to the zoning.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Seconding NHP on the consistency comments, your expereince may vary, but here are mine.

Our act requires that the By-laws used to implement the Plan (primarily Zoning, Subdivision and Building) must be in agreement and support the intent of the Plan. The interesting thing is that where / if there is a discrepancy between the Plan and the other By-laws the Plan takes precedence. So what has ended up happeing, in a few cases, is that jurisdictions knowingly and purposely designate land one way and zone it another so that existing uses can occur and new uses can be limited. Hope that makes sense. Then if you are taken to court, you have an out and the court can only order you to make changes to the By-laws so they are consistent with the Plan.

Hope that makes sense.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Lee Nellis said:
You Wisconsin planners need to think very carefully about criticizing that legislation, or maybe spend some time doing planning someplace where your main job every day is demonstrating that even the concept of planning is not treasonous … [/i]


I'll let you're inflamatory statement go. It's not worth responding. ;)


I wonder, given that I know you have done good work on open space, why not: 1) adopt a long term open space framework map into the plan (that isn't going to change the way your perception of other land use needs might, or at least it shouldn't);
Done.


2) stop abusing an ag zone by using it as a holding zone (it aggravates us farmland preservation types),
Not going to happen politically. Every farmer has a right - going back 40 years to the original zoning code when we were incorporated - to divide their property into 1 acre lots for family members and 2.75 acre lots for general sale. Poor planning? Yes. But it's not something a few planners can change.


3) revise the plan to show areas where you can't, or don't want to (as I think you shouldn't), predict the future land use pattern as a holding zone that is explicitly labelled as such, zone to match; and
A WTF zone?


4) adopt a series of explicit detailed performance standards for re-zonings that include respecting the open space framework, the presence of adequate facilities (actually I guess I should add a step for a CIP, which would be essential to this suggestion), compatibility, etc. You won't have a conventional future land use map in the plan, but: a) you don't really want one or wouldn't be complaining about this requirement in the first place, b) your approach will be explicitly market-based, which will make everyone very happy in these pseudo-conservative times (and is not necessarily a bad thing), and c) you will have predictability about how land use changes are made based on standards rather than a map, which in my estimation is a far more useful type of predictability. Future land use maps are a very simple tool for dealing with a very complex reality and that always makes me nervous.
And when I unviel the 600+ page zoning code, I'll be the first against the wall.

Grousing about people who really care about these issues and, on average, are committed in the long run, seems seriously short-sighted to me.
Our legislature was seriously corrupt when this planning act passed. I doubt they care about anything but their own necks at this point.

Lee, I know you're trying to help. These are just my aggravations.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I'll agree whole-heartedly with Brian's criticisms of Wisconsin's planning legislation. Everybody but planners were at the table. This included Wisconsin Manufacturer's & Commerce, the Realtor's Association, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, and several others. Given their influence, I am surprised the Tavern League was not represented. Each came with their own special interests, and the result is a very poor piece of legislation. Although labeled "Smart Growth" it is in fact far from it in any substantive way, and furthermore lacks any teeth.

On a side note, our state's "1000 Friends" group is one of the most serious threats to smart growth in the state. They are fueled by either zealotry or nimbyism, and lacking any real understanding of how legislation or policy is implemented at the local level, have attacked some of the most effective tools for smart growth or sustanable development at our disposal.
 

pandersen

Cyburbian
Messages
243
Points
9
Meaning of "Consistent"

Here's a spin on what "cocnsistent" means in an Ontario, canada context.

Under the old provincial Planning Act (1993), (Section 3) local planning authorities had to adopt local, county or regional official plans that "had regard" for provincial interest(s) as identified in the Planning Act and through a number of provincail policy statements dealing with aggregate, wetlands etc.

At it's simplist, a local authority could "turn its head and cough", say it reviewed the local plan against the provincial interest(s) stated in S. 3 of the Planning Act and adopted the local plan regardless of the degree of consistency with the Planning Act.

After Planning Reform (Bill 163) was adopted in 1994, a change in section 3 of the Panning Act required all local plans to be "consistent with" section 3 of the Planning act which identified provincial interest(s).

Fast forward to 1996 and a new Conservative government in Ontario. The Planning Act was amended (gutted) and the legislation has returned to "shall have regard" as it existed in 1993.

Hope this helps.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Re: Meaning of "Consistent"


Hope this helps. [/B]


Actually Panderson, Donk, and Nerudite I'm finding that the canadian models are in line with my thinking here. I'm just an little hesitant to pursue them since your enabling laws are different.

You have all been very helpful - thanks!
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
Re: Re: Meaning of "Consistent"

bturk said:


I'm finding that the canadian models are in line with my thinking here.
Another convert...Mmwahahahahahaha. Soon, you will be struck by an irrestible urge for backbacon on a bun, and beer out of a stubbie bottle. You will become addicted to curling on TV, wear a toque 24/7, and of course end every sentence with "eh?", eh?

I'm working on an application to life a holding zone designation right now. Basically, the holding designation was put in place by Council to ensure that certain requirements are met before development can proceed.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Actually, our legislation does not permit Holding Zones, we just write policy to make development difficult in the areas we want "held".
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
29
Inflammatory? Not me. Just offering some perspective.

The vested right, or at least perception thereof, to an endless sea of 2.75 acre lots will have to go in my ever-growing library of why and how conventional zoning has caused at least as many land use problems as it has solved … It is certainly a sufficient source of frustration without the state making your life more difficult.

True holding zones -- which are very rare -- aren't WTF. They are re-zoned in accord with a FLU map and/or a set of standards, especially if your state statute has a consistency provision. The problem is the 2.75 acre commitment. If you adopt an APFO, people may be inclined to just subdivide at that density, leaving a pattern that can never accommodate the community's logical evolution. But maybe with an APFO, and working to encourage open space development, as I know you are doing, it would be the most feasible path.

As for the 600-page code: Phil Herr, who is the father of performance zoning, did his work in New England, where you have to write code that can pass at town meeting. He once told me that he couldn't use more than 30 pages and expect it to work! So don't put yourself in a box just because you think a performance approach would be bulky. What I suggested would be a strategic chapter or two in your present code, not a whole new product.

And Mike: as for the 1000 Friends folks including some zealots: of course they do. Who else is going to balance out the zealots on the other side?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Lee Nellis said:
And Mike: as for the 1000 Friends folks including some zealots: of course they do. Who else is going to balance out the zealots on the other side?
No queation about it. Isn't it a shame, though, that 1) those who we might expect to champion our position don't have a clue, and 2) all we get on these boards are zealots, without any voice of reason or credible professional planning experience?
 

NHPlanner

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Lee Nellis said:
As for the 600-page code: Phil Herr, who is the father of performance zoning, did his work in New England, where you have to write code that can pass at town meeting. He once told me that he couldn't use more than 30 pages and expect it to work! So don't put yourself in a box just because you think a performance approach would be bulky. What I suggested would be a strategic chapter or two in your present code, not a whole new product.
I'll vouch for Phil Herr's work here in New England. He co-wrote our 1997 Master Plan (85% implementation achieved), and has assisted us with our growth management ordinance.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Lee Nellis said:
True holding zones -- which are very rare -- aren't WTF. They are re-zoned in accord with a FLU map and/or a set of standards, especially if your state statute has a consistency provision. The problem is the 2.75 acre commitment. If you adopt an APFO, people may be inclined to just subdivide at that density, leaving a pattern that can never accommodate the community's logical evolution. But maybe with an APFO, and working to encourage open space development, as I know you are doing, it would be the most feasible path.
Lee - as usual you're a great resource and you help me to think and rethink things.

I'm amazed that over the past 40 - some years, the 2.75 acre rural lot size has not been abused. There are perhaps 2 dozen of these lots scattered throughout our ag districts, which are about 8,000 acres total.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
29
Thanks Brian. And I am amazed at the lack of 2.75 acre lots … It leads to me believe that many of your rural land owners could be persuaded, not to abandon their vested right, but to have a productive discussion about timing, transfer of those vested rights to suitable sites, etc. You may be able to pull off something fun. If you want to pursue the application of a performance approach to re-zonings, let me know.

Mike (and everyone else): I am genuinely curious about the relations between local planners and "smart growth" nonprofits in WI, MI, and other places that I am not as familiar with. I infer from what I hear (and not just on Cyburbia) that there is not much dialog between, say, the state chapter of APA and the 1000 Friends groups, etc. Have there been efforts to communicate and cooperate that have been rebuffed or unsuccessful? Or are the planners and the nonprofits just operating in different worlds?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I am not as heavily involved in our state APA chapter as I am in the economic development organizations, so I cannot say if they have made overtures. As for the ED folks, some are too narrow-minded to see the advantage to working with the environmental community. 1000 Friends, for example, continually pushes for changes to our TIF legislation ostensibly because it "promotes sprawl." In fact, while there have been abuses that deserve to be curtailed, TIF has been the only means of funding much of the downtown revitalization and neighborhood redevelopment work that has happened around the state, and the proposed changes would virtually eliminate that funding mechanism. That is a far cry from smart growth.

Rather than carry that message and work together to improve the situation, we have sided with one of the most reviled groups in the state (Wisconsin Manufacturer's & Commerce) in attacking the environmental community. Yes, I do believe that some of our leadership has not evolved with the profession since the 1980's and that they certainly do not see the big picture.

Now there has been a change in political leadership, WMC is out, and so are we. Economic development plans are being formulated for the state by a new administration that has not even invited us to the table.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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10,624
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Michael Stumpf said:
1000 Friends, for example, continually pushes for changes to our TIF legislation ostensibly because it "promotes sprawl." In fact, while there have been abuses that deserve to be curtailed, TIF has been the only means of funding much of the downtown revitalization and neighborhood redevelopment work that has happened around the state, and the proposed changes would virtually eliminate that funding mechanism. That is a far cry from smart growth.
I don't get involved with WAPA chapter issues too often, but I did have the priviledge of sitting on a legislative task force (Mickey Lehmann's -- our Mayor was appointed but I attended inhis absence) that reviewed TIF laws and forwarded proposed revisions to the legislature. 1000 Friends was involved in the process and very vocla. I agree with Mike that their position was the antithesis of smart growth, as it had the sid eeffect of discouraging TIF for infill.

After that expereience I wrote off the organization. We do get involved with other environmental causes including the Community Open Space Partnership.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
I also disagree with 1000 Friends push for TIF reform. I don't think they grasp many elements of using TIF districts. I think they also have a different view of "Smart Growth." They see suburban industrial/office parks that were created as TIF districts and say that it is sprawl, but they don't seem to realize that the City has more control over development patterns, land use, and infrastructure. TIF allows for a more orderly development (or redevelopment) by having the infrastructure improvements in place before the development comes, which sounds like Smart Growth to me.

As for Smart Growth, I think that 1000 Friends equates Smart Growth with New Urbanism. I think their attitude is that everything should look like an urban neighborhood, not like the large lots that dominate the suburbs.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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10,624
Points
34
jtfortin said:
...They see suburban industrial/office parks that were created as TIF districts and say that it is sprawl...
Oh, and incidentally, our regional planning commission just moved from a downtown building in the region's second largest city, to a suburban office park. Talk about practicing what you preach....
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
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2,550
Points
25
bturk said:


Oh, and incidentally, our regional planning commission just moved from a downtown building in the region's second largest city, to a suburban office park. Talk about practicing what you preach....
And the former director of that regional planning commission happens to work for the previous owner and occupant of that building.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
jtfortin said:


And the former director of that regional planning commission happens to work for the previous owner and occupant of that building.
They had to trim down staff to pay for it. So now we get poor service, higher annual operating costs, but at least the direector has a corner office. The legislature is finally calling for an audit of the agency.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
bturk said:
We do get involved with other environmental causes including the Community Open Space Partnership.
COSP; a grass-roots organization of "regular folk" who advocate on behalf of open space. Although they value environment highly, they recognize the importance of all types of open spce and how it is integrated into the comunity. A very good organization.
 
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