Combined Council and Planning Board Work Session 4-29-02

Combined Council and Planning Board Work Session

Monday, April 29, 2002

7:00 PM

WCU Outreach Center


The meeting was called to order at 7:05 PM by Mayor Jim Davis.  Present were Mayor Davis; Councilmembers Dick Iobst, Joe Rossano, Jim Wallace; Councilmember-elect Sue Burton; Planning Board Chairman Larry Kolenbrander; Planning Board members David Shapiro, Ian Pritchard, Gene Tweedy, Sally James, Anne Chambers, John Adams; Village Clerk Mary Ann Budahl; Shaun Moss representing WRGC; and two interested residents. 


Mayor Davis welcomed everyone and then turned the meeting over to Larry Kolenbrander.  Copies of the ‘Administrative Review Process’ summaries were distributed.  This document describes three types of subdivisions, namely: Small Subdivisions of three or fewer lots, Minor Subdivisions consisting of four to 20 lots, and Major Subdivisions of 21 or more lots.  In addition there are two approaches that subdividers can use:  one being the conventional subdivision of land which allows units of two acres or more; the other being a conservation subdivision in which a minimum of 20% of the total land of the tract is preserved in permanent open space.  In this case, the subdivider may be allowed a slightly higher density, i.e. one unit per 1.62 acres. 


Larry Kolenbrander then explained the administrative review process for small subdivisions of three or fewer lots in which the developer submits an application to the Ordinance Administrator for review.  The Administrator has up to ten days for review and may give approval to proceed with development; then the developer submits a final plat, and if approved the final plat is recorded.  If the Administrator denies the application, the developer may appeal to the Planning Board for review and approval. 


For minor or major subdivisions (as described above) the application is submitted to the Ordinance Administrator who may take up to 20 days to review it.  Then it goes to the Planning Board for a pre-development conference that may take up to 30 days for a decision.  If the developer meets all the regulations, his application will be approved.  If there is something not in accordance with the ordinance, the Planning Board can deny it and then the developer can appeal it to the Village Council.  A conventional subdivision follows this process of review. 


If a conservation subdivision is planned, the process is expedited in this way:  the Planning Board immediately reviews the application and submits it to the Village Council for a decision. 


The Planning Board or the Village Council may also request a review by a Technical Review Committee, defined as an ad hoc advisory group consisting of members appointed or retained by the Village Council on the basis of their professional or licensed background in the areas of engineering, land planning and surveying, architecture, real estate, or law to advise the Ordinance Administrator or the Planning Board.  The Technical Review Committee would review and make recommendations on

the technical sufficiency of the plans within a proposed subdivision within ten days.  If a conventional plan is approved it goes back to the Planning Board; if it is a conservation subdivision it goes to the Village Council for approval or denial. 


The Technical Review Group would be implemented when the scope of a proposed subdivision is larger or more complex than the Planning Board could comfortably rule on.  Concerning the cost of retaining the Technical Review Committee members, Kolenbrander stated that an application fee schedule is not specified in the Subdivision Regulations, and the Council could set fees for subdivisions of various sizes that would cover the cost of the Technical Review Group. 

Kolenbrander proceeded to summarize the remainder of the draft Subdivision Regulations as laying out and defining procedures for phased development, minimum design standards such as  lot size and configuration, road design ( all roads being designed and constructed to meet the minimum design and construction of the NC DOT), drainage areas, soil stabilization, utility designs, etc.  He pointed out that most of these standards, as far as dimensions, etc., were not changed from the existing ordinance.  Most of the changes dealt with the process of allowing different sizes of subdivisions with different approval processes.  He pointed that with the conservation-type subdivision specifying up to 20% of the area designated for green space the developer gets a little bonus of possible slight increase in density, i.e. one unit per 1.62 acres instead of one unit per 2 acres. 


Kolenbrander explained that the Subdivision Regulations tell how you may subdivide land into smaller pieces and into what sizes, etc; the Zoning Ordinance articulates what you can do on that land.  It was further stated that the Planning Board has adopted the current versions of these documents and recommends that the Council consider them for adoption.  Before adoption, however, the Council must hold a public hearing on these documents, following which changes can be made by the Council.  Kolenbrander also suggested that before the public hearing the Village Attorney should review the documents.  These are public documents, and hard copies will be placed at the Jackson County Public Library, at Hunter Library, and at the University Inn lobby.  Furthermore, if a hard copy is desired it can be obtained from the Village Clerk, Mary Ann Budahl (293-5004) for $5.00 plus postage.  It was further pointed out that these documents, Draft Zoning Ordinance v3.1 and Subdivision Regulations v.3.2 are the versions that have been adopted by the Planning Board and they will both become final Version 4 when they have been adopted by the Village Council.


To summarize, the new Subdivision Regulations provide for three sizes of subdivisions (three or fewer lots, four to 20 lots, and 21 or more lots) and two types, namely conventional and conservation.  Moreover, the administrative review process has been modified.  These changes give the developer more options with which to develop his land by using the conservation approach of setting aside 20% of the land for greenspace and thereby qualifying for a slightly increased density.


The existing Zoning Ordinance has a limited number of categories of land; namely a single family residential, a manufactured housing district, and a motel district.  The draft Zoning Ordinance lists some additional zoning categories, summarized in the Table found in Section 208 of the Zoning Ordinance v. 3.1.  The Table defines what uses are permitted within every category:


R-1 is designated as low-density residential for single-family dwellings;

R-1-A: low-density residential and residential Planned Unit Developments;

R-2: residential allowing manufactured homes of not less than 1420 square feet of heated area, above ground;

R-3: rural residential allowing multi-family – low density [six bedrooms per acre];

R-4: rural residential allowing multi-family – high density [ten bedrooms per acre].  Kolenbrander stated that The Summit apartments, comprising 14-acres, when fully built will be just under the allowable ten bedrooms per acre. The area known as Valhalla is designated as R-3 which allows a lower density.

(It was noted that these are conditional uses and any plans must go through the review process.) 

C-1 is designated as commercial, allowing hotels, motels, retail businesses, and commercial planned unit developments with conditional use.

M-1 is the commercial motel district that comprises the University Inn and the cemetery.  Any expansion of this area is conditional. 


A permanent copy of the adopted Subdivision Regulations and Zoning Ordinance along with the Zoning Map will be kept on file in the office of the Village of Forest Hills Clerk. 


Mayor Davis stated that at the next regular meeting of the Village Council to be held on May 6, 2002, he will announce the dates for the hearings involving the adoption of this Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations, as well as the 2002-2003 budget. 


As an aside, Larry Kolenbrander recommended that the Village Council request the Jackson County Commissioners to administer their recently adopted communication tower ordinance within the confines of Forest Hills. 


Mayor Davis heartily congratulated Larry Kolenbrander and the members of the Planning Board for completing the extremely difficult task of revising the Subdivision Regulations and Zoning Ordinances, and the Council added their enthusiastic appreciation. 


The meeting was adjourned (Iobst, Burton) at 8:20 PM.


Mary Ann Budahl