Carbondale development code advances
Carbondale’s Planning and Zoning Commission is recommending that town trustees approve a new Unified Development Code.
Senior Planner Janet Buck said the process to develop the UDC started in earnest in 2013, but in reality it’s been in the works since 2010, incorporating elements of the most recent comprehensive plan.
The UDC is an effort to clean up and clarify the town’s land use and zoning codes – regulations that haven’t been revised since 1993.
Carbondale’s planning staff also recommended approval of the UDC. The UDC is intended to clarify Carbondale’s land and building codes while also codifying them into one chapter of the municipal code.
The town contracted Clarion Associates out of Denver to develop the UDC.
The document starts by stating it intends to lessen congestion on Carbondale’s streets, keep the town safe from community disasters like fires and floods, “provide adequate light and air” and fend off overpopulation. The UDC will also support the town’s utilities, schools and parks and promote conservation efforts.
Along the way, the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission worked on the UDC in three modules. The first covered Carbondale’s policies and procedures regarding development in the town.
The second covered zoning districts and land uses, and the third module dealt with development standards.
Should trustees adopt the UDC, the town should treat it as a “living document” and continue considering further zone district changes, said Matt Goebel, director of Clarion’s Denver office.
Alongside the development of the UDC is a separate town project to update its zoning map, said Goebel.
Revision of the codes has involved a lot of piecemeal amendments over time to clean up contradictory sections and parts that weren’t very user-friendly, said Goebel. The UDC is also a major consolidation that turns 38 chapters of regulations into eight with hundreds of changes to regulations, he said.
One of the biggest changes was to the procedure for site plan reviews, which organized the division of labor between what needs the trustees’ approval, what should go to the planning commission and what the town staff could approve on their own, said Tareq Wafaie, associate at Clarion.
Procedures for Planned Unit Developments have also changed, whereas a public hearing used to be necessary for any changes to a PUD, the planning commission would be able to initiate a PUD amendment, he said. Parts of the UDC would also allow some local food production, such as out of one’s home.
One condition not passed along in the planning commission’s recommendation originated from Mayor Stacey Bernot. The planning commission would get more authority if the UDC is approved as it is. And currently two members of the planning commission can be from outside of the town limits.
The mayor suggested changing this rule to make sure all planning commissioners are Carbondale residents if they’re going to be entrusted with more authority. But the commissioners argued that some of the commission’s most productive members come from outside of town.
March 9 is the tentative date scheduled for Carbondale Board of Trustee to consider the UDC, but it’s unclear if the issue will be continued into multiple hearings, said Goebel.
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