Public gets chance to respond to new subdivision regulations
County residents will get a chance to share their thoughts about changes to Morgan County's development rules during a public hearing on November 27.
The meeting will showcase a few major additions to the Subdivision Ordinance, drafted by the Morgan County Planning Commission over the last few months.
At the top of the list of changes are guidelines for cluster housing, a type of mixed-use, high-density development.
Also up for discussion is a concept plan approval, an early chance for the Planning Commission to okay or deny new developments.
A collection of water well regulations are also being proposed for the county rules.
Cluster development rules
Planners have assembled guidelines for cluster developments as an alternative to high-density housing allowed by existing rules.
Instead of permitting a high concentration of apartments or town homes on a parcel of land, cluster rules dictate a mixture of housing types and open space in "traditional neighborhoods." In order to qualify as a cluster development, a developed parcel of land has to be at least 30 acres.
Regulations set a maximum of eight dwelling units per acre, with no more than 40% of any one type of housing throughout the overall development. Planners could not approve clusters of all town homes, for example. The rules also dictate that at least 60% of housing units be "for sale units" instead of rental properties.
In addition to homes, clusters can also include "neighborhood-oriented retail and other appropriate commercial types of development," according to the draft document.
Open space would be set aside at the rate of a quarter of an acre for every 10 dwelling units. That unbuilt space would have to offer "public recreational amenities" for permanent community use.
Planners would allow developers to use open space for other public needs in place of recreation areas when appropriate.
Some residents have already voiced their feelings that the cluster rules present a preview of the anticipated redevelopment of Coolfont by the Freeman Companies.
Concept plan approval
Planners want to add a new first step of approval for developers in the form of a concept plan approval.
The step would allow the planning board to see the overall concept for a development before engineering and building could begin.
A concept plan would lay out all future phases of a subdivision, showing proposed lots, parking areas, roads, plus water and sewer services. Planners could also evaluate the development's "likely impact upon the surrounding neighborhoods and the county as a whole," according to the proposed rules.
Approval of the concept plan would not obligate the Planning Commission to approve future phases of a development, say the new regulations.
Wells in the spotlight
The draft rules beef up building restrictions in the county's flood plain by prohibiting any new wells or septic areas within floodplains throughout the county. The rule would apply to homes in any new subdivision.
Another new section of the subdivision ordinance focuses on the effect of communal wells on existing landowners.
Proposed rules would require developers to monitor nearby residential wells when they conduct pumping tests for a new public water supply.
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Monitoring would alert developers and the county if a new community well pulled water away from neighboring private wells. Results of the monitoring would be shared with the state health department and Morgan County's Planning Office.
A new section of the subdivision ordinance also directs developers to protect riverside areas by limiting building and excavation within 50 feet of a stream.
Public hearing November 27
The public is welcome to comment on the proposed subdivision ordinance on Tuesday, November 27 at 7 p.m. at the Warm Springs Middle School.
Copies of the complete proposal are available at the office of the Morgan County Commission. The proposed changes can also be requested by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.