Forest Hills Planning Board 4-16-01

Subject: Village of Forest Hill Planning Board minutes


Subject: Revised Minutes of Village of Forest Hills Planning Board


Date: April 16, 2001


Members Present:


Chairman Larry Kolenbrander

Dick Iobst

Sally James

Ian Pritchard

Joe Rossano

Jim Wallace


Special Guest:  Geoff Willett of the North Carolina Institute of Government


Other guests:  Jim Dukes, Elizabeth Worley, and Howard Hill


The meeting of the Forest Hills Planning Board, held at the University Inn in Forest Hills on April 16, 2001, was called to order by Chairman Larry Kolenbrander at 7:00 p.m.


(1)  Sally James made a correction to the minutes of March 19, 2001.  There are 116 lots in the entire Valley.  A motion to approve the minutes was made and seconded.  They were approved.


(2)  Chairman Kolenbrander asked the Board to look at the agenda.  He said that at this point our major job tonight deals with the subdivision and zoning regulations.  He said that the process is that we will be talking about concepts.  He mentioned other items on the agenda.  Sally James mentioned ETJ.  He then asked the Board to start moving on Item 4,  subdivision and zoning regulations.  We should, he said, talk about individual items that need to be discussed in terms of dissolving a regulation.  Once we have a list of those sort of decisions that we would like to see Geoff Willett will take that information and prepare a proposed regulation.  He will then come back to us.  We can review it, make changes in it, and we will have a hard copy in front of us.  After the changes are made we would then recommend that the Village Council would consider it for adoption.  At this point the Village Council would either accept our recommendation or reject.  If they accept the recommendation they will schedule a public hearing.  Copies of the regulation will be made available to those interested.  The public hearing would concern that particular issue.  The Village Council would take comments at that time and then, following that, the Council would either vote to adopt or disapprove.  There could be changes made at the point or we could vote to disapprove if we so wish.   Some discussion followed.


During the discussion Jim Wallace asked in general, what kind of a timetable do you see flowing from this.  Larry Kolenbrander said he wasn't sure.  Right now we do not have the kint of situation to be able to work with developers.  Jim Wallace asked the developers, Howard Hill and Elizabeth Worley, was he correct in assuming that if don't have this put together when you want it you can have an extension to work this out?  Have I read this right?  Larry said we should not be too rapid because if Elizabeth Worley and Howard Hill don't get an extension there will be other developers right behind them.  Ian Pritchard felt we should try to get a recommendation tonight so that we could go to the Council.


Some discussion followed.


The discussion continued in this vein for some time.  Jim Wallace talked about mixed uses for the homes.  Single family homes was the original intent of the whole thing.  I think most of the people around here, hs said, are for that concept.  That doesn't rule out family businesses or anything else you want to do.


Larry Kolenbrander asked Geoff Willett if it would be approriate in something like this to specify owner/occupant.  Geoff Willett talked about the business are not being more than 25 percent of the gross floor space of the unit.  The sign issue is another one.  There could be no more than one or more than two site employees as part of the business.  No outbuildings could be used in the business.  There should be no parking for vehicles like delivery vehicles and such.  These are often areas, he said, that are addressed in that definition,and you can allow them or not.  He continued in this manner.


The discussion continued for some time.  Single family units were discussed.  If rental properties come up- i.e. if the family leaves for a year or two, they should only rent to a single family to preserve the quality of life in the Village.  Ian Pritchard felt that we should have a town center.  Essentially, he said, what we are looking at is what the Village is going to look like in the future.  I think, he emphasized, the Council should start thinking about some of these things.  Whether we make a decision or not the idea of putting some of these issues before the Council in some approrpriate format is important.  Other uses should be considered like an assisted living complex or a kindergarten and nursery school.  These things would be good for this community.  I don't see any problems, he said, with trying to encourage senior citizens having something they coujld move to in assisted living are and that would like to be some type of a large type of complex which could be included in the zoning regulations as well.


Jim Wallace said the idea was to keep the Valley residential.  We were going to have a maximum of thirty-five houses.  We said that people who were doing the ococupantional type thing could do their thing.  And people who had apartments were grand fathered in but no more.  So, if we do what you're suggesting, we're changing everything.  We're a small Valley.  Why do we have to be so diverse now?


The discussion continued for some time.


Larry Kolenbrander said, in answer to a question by Jim Wallace, that subdivision deals with take a plot of land and divide it up into pieces.  Zoning deals with what to do with those pieces.  Both work in concern so you don't amend one without changing the other.  This is a reiterative process.  What Geoff takes tonight he will come back with us for review. 


Greenspace was also discussed with no consensus arrived at.  Both Sally James and Jim Wallace said that with the existing ordinance of two-acre lots we will have plenty of green space.


A dedication of land to the Village for greenspace was emphasized by both Larry Kolenbrander and Ian Pritchard. 


Geoff Willett said that the approach of exactly what you want requires a great deal of work on the part of the Town.  The other conceptual approach which, again, has worked very well and does not require much of that front end work, and you still maintain control.  If you know the parameters, you know just what you are looking for, you can work with that.  You have a chance to influence that set of plans.


Ian Pritchard said that we are right at the stage when we can work with any developer.  There is a clear understanding of the expectations of the developer in terms of dedications.  You have to look at land in terms of the uses.  There may be some cases where the Town wants to protect the right to have utility services to adjacent properties.


Dick Iobst said that the sewer lines must be run in the center of the road. You can't run it through someone's property unless they give you permission to do it.


Green space was discussed at length with what amounts should be dedicated to the Village.  A general rule of thumb, Geoff Willett said, was five percent left over for green space.


Geoff Willett talked about contract zoning.  It's a very foggy concept.  It is basically the type of zoning when a community does not have any standards and the leaders of the community said, well, if the developer comes in and says you give us this, this, and this we'll give you your permit.  It's sort of in the atmosphere of bargaining in a flea market.  You could have someone influence your thinking.  You need to come to terms of what you want. Clarity is what's needed.  Dick Iobst felt it would be fair for us to have an understanding instead of throwing us in a dark tunnel like we're being driven and I don't like that.


Larry Kolenbrander said we must think of this as an iterative process.  We can take a look at it before the process is complete.  What I would like to do is to send Geoff away with some pretty good instructions on these kinds of items that we can have a draft of something to look at and say, alright, here's our draft.


Other items discussed were traditional neighborhood concepts, sidewalks which could be walking paths, and roads.  Larry Kolenbrander said we are dealing with developers who are going to come in and do the development. What we have not is done on an individual lot by lot basis.  The type of development we are now talking about is that somebody is going to come in and develop all of the property and sell it.  In other words, the developer will subdivide, build the house, and sell it.  The option for having some continuity is there.  The idea is to sell the lot and the house together.


Jim Wallace felt that the people in this area are used to buying a lot and doing what they want with it.  Larry said that's not your problem, that's the developer's problem.  Jim felt that the people who live in the country [where we are] want flexibility.  That's why they come here to live.


The matter of roads generated a great deal of discussion.  Jim Wallace moved to require a potential developer to build streets to meet current NCDOT specifactions.  The vote was three in favor of Jim's motion- Jim Wallace, Sally James, and Dick Iobst, and two opposed, Ian Pritchard and Joe Rosano.  The motion passed by a vote of three to two.


Some discussion centered on drainage and sewage.  Larry Kolenbrander talked about utilities.  He felt that the Valley was underlined by a fractured rock aquifer.  When you are dealing with fractured rock basically what it means is the water is in the cracks in the rock.  When you deal with a fractured rock aquifer your development in the Valley may have a substantial negiatve effect on ground water that's being used by other houses and so on in the Valley for the existing water supply.  One of the options is to require some sort of sewage collection and treatment, a centralized water supply, available through TWSA for those items.  The problem is that there is no way that you can guarantee long term stability of anything other than a central water supply.


Some discussion followed about TWSA.


Concerning the water supply for future development in the Valley, Geoff Willett felt that he would have to do some investigation.  He didn't know how productive a further discussion would be of this issue at this point until he got some information and worked out some options. 


Larry Kolenbrander talked about cluster housing.  Clustering, he felt, is an option.  Jim Wallace felt that we might allow clustering but stablize the allowable houses.  In that way you could have smaller lots that way- but there wouldn't be more than thirty-five houses in the development.


Density was discussed.


Larry Kolenbrander asked what kind of density are you talking about?  Ian Pritchard felt this concept should be brought up to the next level of decision-making.  He felt there should be an open hearing with a discussion about density and clustering.


Sally James felt that once its in writing and mailed out then it is very difficult to come back in and not see it in certain ways.  We must make sure that the public here understands options that we're going to trade off.  I see more people saying that we don't want the density.  I want to make sure that that idea is as prominent as clustering here is.


Both Sally James and Jim Wallace opposed a density of over forty (40) units.  If there was clustering, Jim Wallace said, than we should not exceed the original number of houses.


In the end, Larry Kolenbrander said that it seems what we ought to continue the discussion of density at the next meeting.  Let us start thinking and talking, he said, about density levels.


The matter of ETJ came up.  Larry Kolenbrander talked about the Council meeting in which the members asked that a list of the homeowners in Oak Forest and in the small development adjacent to it be provided.  Once we had the list we would then contact the individual owners to see what their feeling were about being included in ETJ.


There was more discussion about this.


Chairman Kolenbrander thanked Geoff Willett and called for a motion to adjourn.  A motion to adjourn was made and the Board adjourned at 9:34 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by


Richard W. Iobst