Some builders will experience an easier permit and approval process if proposed code amendments are approved this week.
Aldermen will consider changes to planned unit development (PUD) and subdivision ordinances, recommended by Building Commissioner Shawn Seymour and approved by the planning and zoning commission.
Under a new code, developers of small projects will no longer be required to apply for PUD zoning classification. The change will ease the process of many projects, Seymour said.
The building commissioner presented the proposed new PUD regulations to the planning and zoning commission Oct. 9, along with a series of text amendments aimed at streamlining the subdivision review and approval process.
If the amendments are adopted, P&Z will no longer publish notices of some public hearings and builders will no longer return to P&Z for review of final development plats. Both changes speed up the final approval process.
Seymour argued that the plans do not change after P&Z reviews the preliminary plat, so a second review only serves to delay the project.
The most important change aldermen will consider removes the requirement that all new development must request a PUD, which Seymour said has not worked the way it should.
“It has probably been chasing development away,” he said.
PUD zoning districts were intended to shape developments that involved mixed uses, large amounts of open space or to allow the city to modify setbacks.
“The driving force behind the PUD was to make things fit, give the developer more flexibility,” Seymour said.
The current PUD regulation required all new projects to request PUD zoning.
Under the amended rules, if a property owner wants to develop a project on a parcel that is correctly zoned, and the building plan meets all the codes with no need for a variance, there is no need for a PUD.
In another concession to builders, the new rules allow developers to request one three-year extension if the project does not start within the three-year deadline.
Mike Bates said he liked most of the changes but had an issue with the proposal to eliminate notice of some P&Z public hearings.
“I’m concerned about public hearings without notiﬁcations,” Bates said. “I think it’s wrong to hold a public hearing without notifying the public what we are doing. The perception is that we’re trying to put things through.”
Seymour said the proposed amendment mirrors the state statute, but Bates said state statutes are minimum regulations and cities are allowed to have more strict regulations.
“Nothing says we have to establish just the basic minimum,” he said.
Seymour noted that most other cities require only one public hearing at the board of aldermen level.
“The published notice in the newspaper, signs at the site and letters to adjoining property owners announcing the public hearing at the board of aldermen level would all take place before the measure comes to you all (P&Z) for consideration,” he said. “So the public would be notified.”
With Jim Smith absent, commissioners voted to recommend approval. Aldermen will consider the two amendments this week.