Why Carbondalians should care about the UDC | PostIndependent.com

Why Carbondalians should care about the UDC

Carbondale officials are urging residents to get involved in the ongoing rewrite of the town’s land use and zoning code.

The town is taking comments on the second module of the planned Unified Development Code through May 1 — Friday of this week — with a public meeting planned for 7 p.m. Thursday.

“Now’s the time,” said Mayor Stacey Bernot. “Folks need to understand that they’re a whole lot more effective getting involved in the planning process instead of taking a reactive approach. Sometimes you don’t see it until it hits you in the face, but then it’s almost too late.”

The Unified Development Code is an attempt to make sense of a set of land and building codes that have gone without revision since 1993. With the help of Clarion Associates of Denver, the town hopes to clarify and consolidate the rules and simplify the application process.

“We need to have some clearer understanding for applicants,” Bernot said. “It’s not going to fix everything, but it will help lay some of that groundwork.”

Town planner Janet Buck acknowledged that zoning can be dry, but called it “critical to how the town will evolve.”

“People care so much about how Carbondale looks and feels, and zoning is what drives it,” she said.

Module 1 covered many of the policies and procedures — interesting to developers but less essential to the general population. Module 3 will explore various standards including some landscaping sustainability requirements that relate to the town’s new green code.

Module 2, currently under review, addresses zoning districts and use standards relevant to anyone who owns or rents property in the city limits. It creates three new types of districts — mixed-use, conservation and public facilities — and combines some existing zones. Other out-of-use zones would be removed completely.

Several zones would also see changes to regulations concerning building setbacks, building height or lot coverage.

“We’re not changing zoning boundaries, but we are changing parameters within zone districts,” Buck explained.

Potential changes include allowing smaller front yards and porches that don’t count toward the setback, as well as some changes to encourage local food production. Rethinking minimum size requirements could allow for more affordable housing or provide a nonsegregated living option for the elderly. It might also enhance the town’s eclectic vibe.

“There’s flex in here to allow buildings to look different,” Buck said. “We want to keep it funky.”

The full draft is available online at http://www.carbondaleudc.com.

“If people don’t have much time, I’d encourage them to look at the summary tables and the table of allowed uses,” Buck said. “People should be aware of what can happen on their property and around them. It affects them and it affects their neighbors and it affects the community.”

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