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20120221_PC_mtg_min_.pdf 1 PLANNING COMMISSION CITY MANAGER Demery Bishop Diane Schleicher Randi Bryan Rob Callahan CITY ATTORNEY Henry Levy Edward M. Hughes John Major Tyler Marion Monty Parks MINUTES Planning Commission Meeting February 21, 2012 – 7:00 p.m. Mayor Jason Buelterman called the February 21, 2012, Planning Commission meeting to order. The first order of business was to swear in Demery Bishop, Randi Bryan, Rob Callahan and Monty Parks. After the Oath of Office was administered, the Mayor welcomed the new members. The next order of business was nomination of a chairman. Mr. Rob Callahan made a motion for Chairman as Mr. Monty Parks, seconded by Tyler Marion. The vote was unanimous. The Mayor turned the meeting over to Chairman Parks. Other commissioners present were John Major, Henry Levy, and Tyler Marion. Next order of business was the nomination of Vice Chair. Mr. Henry Levy nominated Mr. John Major, seconded by Mr. Demery Bishop. The vote was unanimous. Chairman Monty Parks asked for consideration of the Minutes of the January 17, 2012 meeting. Mr. Callahan moved to approve. Mr. Marion seconded the motion. The vote to approve the minutes was unanimous. Mr. Parks welcomed new member, Randi Bryan. Mr. Parks asked for any last minute agenda additions. Dianne Otto announced there were a few announcements. Sharon Shaver is with us and will be taking the minutes. Ms. Otto said that late this afternoon there was an issue related to site plan approval. Depending on the action taken on that, it was proposed that if the body is looking in favor of the changes, one of the uses in C-2, specifically miniature golf, be removed from being required to having site plan approval and special review approval. She stated that she would like to wait to see how discussion goes on Section 5- 080 before we move to that action. If we are going there, she would like a short intermission to hand out the Section 4-050 that would be considered for the change. It is somewhat time sensitive, but again it is dependent upon the Commissions actions on the site plan section whether we will want to consider the use in C-2 change. In the packet are a number of items pertaining to the new planning commission year, including contact numbers, she asked that the member look over that and let her know of any changes. At each chair tonight were interim ordinances. In the packet was everything that has been codified into the Municode website. There are ordinances that have been adopted but have not been incorporated into the website. Mr. Parks asked if there were any Disclosures or Recusals. There were none. The first order of business is 5-080, Ms. Otto stated that she would like to hear discussion and after that action, may want to take an intermission to distribute another text that is being proposed for changes, but wanted see how this goes first. Mr. Parks stated that, if it is okay with Ms. Otto and the Commission, he 2 would like to conduct the discussion of this as if it were a petitioner and give a rundown on this and open it up to questions from Ms. Otto, and discussion among the Commission and then open it to the public. Ms. Otto stated that as part of the rewrite of Article 5, Section 5 -080, it deals with site plan approval. The current ordinances in the packet were last modified in May, 2005. The changes shown in red are the result of staff’s work, the City attorney and from a workshop with a planning commission that sat prior to the current. It is a significant change for the city if the change is adopted, in that site plans have always been for general information purposes only, a public hearing process where neighbors could learn of a proposed development, however the ordinance did not allow the Mayor or City Council or, with the commission’s recommendations, any circumstances or conditions on a site plan. If an agent for a development agreed to any changes, that was fine, but the city could not impose conditions. The text in the proposed ordinance would significantly change to allow the imposition of conditions on a sit e plan. Ms. Otto further stated that she is available for questions. Mr. Parks asked for any questions. Mr. Major stated his concern is that under the previous ordinance the site plan was information to neighbors and stakeholders. Now, is what the ordinance is saying, if the site plan comes before the commission, Mayor and Council, and meets all the ordinances and requirements, it can still be denied or modified? Ms. Otto confirmed that was correct. Mr. Major said that if the commission is going to do that, there have to be some specific guidelines. There is a lot of subjectivity there. Take for example the billboard, technically, it met most of the requirements, but this would give the City the right to say that it doesn’t fit in the neighborhood. The ordinance certainly has value. If a petitioner comes in with something that meets all the requirements, the city can still say no. Ms. Otto confirmed that Mr. Major was correct. Mr. Parks stated that he was at that meeting, the workshop. In A, under process, was there a discussion on how long you have to review the site plan for discrepancies and move it on to the engineer and how long is it reasonable for that engineer to review? Ms. Otto stated that she did not recall, but it was policy to act as soon as possible and keep communication open and. had never heard a time reference. Mr. Parks stated that he didn’t see a problem with leaving it open-ended. Mr. Callahan said that there has always been a certain goal, 30 days, or something like that. Ms. Otto stated that generally if there is a revision, it is another week to provide comments on the revised plan, the same for the initial plan. The City doesn’t have anything in writing. The City always encourages keeping things moving. If the City has comments, oftentimes, it takes longer. It is always a give and take exchange. Mr. Callahan asked if seven days was the goal. Ms. Otto stated that was the goal for the City to respond. Mr. Parks stated that he didn’t know if there was a need to put anything like that in. Mr. Callahan commented that seven days was a really quick turnaround. Mr. Parks agreed. There was discussion on the grammatical correctness of the proposed change. It was decided that the proposed wording is fine. Mr. Parks asked, at the end of Section C, why we went from 18 to 12 months. Ms. Otto stated that would now match the longevity of a variance. The extension has also been removed. With the 18 months plus the 90 days, a project could be nearly two years old, from having been approved. With old text amendments, FEMA regulations, things that change, we wanted to shorten that gap between the time a project received approval and the time a permit was issued. Mr. Parks asked for any other questions. Ms. Bryan stated that she has one concern under process: The first paragraph, in addition to all other requirements, where did that come from, why would we need to know? Ms. Otto said that recent site plans have come back seeking amendments to prior site plans and this would assist staff in finding any and all prior site plan approval. There was a project where petitioners came back two additional times seeking amendments to the original approved site plan and this gets everyone on the same footing. Their understanding and staffs understanding, there was an original approval and revision with a 2nd revision, helps keeps track. Ms. Bryan asked if wasn’t incumbent upon city to keep track. Ms. Otto said that it is 3 challenging for the City. The reference points that change, staff changes. Ms. Bryan said parking meters, that is right after, and asked why the applicants have to identify. Ms. Otto said that the City has run into situations and the City would like the applicants to work with DOT if a development along their right of way. The City has been somewhat blindsided by them not having that conversation with DOT, at the end of the project, learning the significant number of parking meters that are being eliminated. It is something we encourage them to determine at the onset. Ms. Bryan asked who holds their hands through this process, how do they know to ask these questions. Ms. Otto said that staff helps them through. It is not the City’s position to ask the DOT the impact of someone else’s project. If it is on City Streets, it would be the City’s decision. Ms. Otto said that if it is not clear, a DOT reference can be added. Mr. Parks asked for other questions. Mr. Callahan said, on Paragraph C, he likes the change from 18 months. On the last sentence, that starts with “if a building permit has not been obtained”, he would rather it state that if no work has commenced in a certain amount of time, and would like to reduce time period. Ms. Otto asked if Mr. Callahan would like the wording to be if a building permit has been obtained and work has begun. Mr. Callahan said that it could be added that way or substituted. Ms. Otto asked for input from the other commissioners. Mr. Major clarified his understanding, and asked if the change to 12 months from approval and the permit was obtained in the eleventh month, would that add six months to begin work? Ms. Otto confirmed that was correct, but would be permitted under an approved set of plans. Once a permit has been issued, it is approved under the codes that are in effect at that time. Rather than waiting the 12 months and if there was a code change any time during that then, the plans will be reviewed under whatever codes are in effect. Mr. Major said his understanding is that the permit is issued and work begins within the 12 months. Ms. Otto stated that in her list, Article 2 the definitions already have to define work because this has come up before. What does work constitute? This would tie into that definition if the Commission opts to put that in there. Mr. Parks asked if the prior ordinance allowed them up to two years and then six months more. Ms. Otto explained that it allowed them 18 months and can ask for 90 day extension and would have to have a permit. Once a permit is issued, they have six months to begin before that permit expires. Mr. Parks clarified that it would take them well over two years and this change would cut it down to 12 months. Ms. Otto explained that this has been an issue with requests for extensions at the close of the 18 months. The City has had issues with this. Mr. Parks asked if what the Commission is doing are recommendations for Council consideration. Ms. Otto confirmed that both this and the next ordinance are for consideration. It has been a long time since these have been discussed. Mr. Parks said that it would be appropriate if anyone else had a comment on Mr. Callahan’s word changes. The Commission can vote on this as a group and put it forward as recommendation to Council. A motion was requested for this. Mr. Major motioned that it move forward to Council with the addition offered by Mr. Callahan. Mr. Parks then stated that he is going to ask for public input. Mr. Major retracted his motion at that point. Mr. Parks asked if there was any member from the public that wanted to comment. 4 Mr. Steele Knudson, 107 General George Marshall Blvd, addressed the Planning Commission with his two main concerns in the ordinance. Those concerns were in the City’s response time and with specifics and non-compliance. He believes that this ordinance needs a lot more work. Mr. Parks asked for any other public input. There was none. Mr. Parks then said there were a couple of things that the Council is being asked to review. One being, a time frame for review, another to develop a set of specific guidelines for site plan objections. Mr. Major said that he believes that the Commission and Council should look at 1, 2, 3 and 4, which provide guidance when making the determination when something is inconsistent in a neighborhood. He further stated that he could not think of any changes that he would make and hopes that the proposed guidelines are the ones that Council will consider as it takes some of the subjectivity out of it. Mr. Parks asked for a motion to summarize. Mr. Major made a motion that, with the addition that Mr. Callahan stated, to have the permit in hand and work as will be defined to begin within 12 months, with no extension under here, it would be applied , if they haven’t done that. Mr. Marion seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously to send this on to Council with the motion and recommendations. Mr. Parks asked when it would go to Council. Ms. Otto stated March 8. Mr. Parks asked for the next item on the agenda. Item 5-090, Variances, and to be addressed with the staff. Ms. Otto explained that, unlike the section just discussed, Item 5-090, Variances, comes with very little change. It is fundamentally the same ordinance we have other than cleaning up a minor amount of language. This is a result of input from staff, the City attorney, and the workshop. Many times there have been requests to modify these ordinances, to allow variances to be considered for things other than hardship to the land. But the ordinance is in the same form. She stated that we want to change that theology from it being something to the property, rather than other circumstances. Mr. Parks stated that there have been several discussions amongst this committee as to whether we have the authority to consider some of them. Mr. Parks asked for input. Mr. Major stated that our current variance ordinance is hard to understand based on some of the things that come to the commission as hardships. The ordinance says there have to be unique physical circumstances, too shallow, too narrow, and inconsistent with the neighborhood, something unique to that property itself. Mr. Major said that he has been on the Commission beginning 5 years and offered several examples of hardship petitions. Mr. Major said that he does not know why this ordinance cannot be modified to say, in addition to physical property, where there are legitimate considerations, either environmental safety or historical that petition would b e eligible to be considered for a hardship, which all the ordinance says now is that will get you through the threshold to be considered. If the ordinance is going to grant those, counter to our authority, every time we do that, we are violating our own ordinance, so why not recognize what we’ve done in almost every case and put it in an ordinance. Mr. Parks asked for other discussion. He further stated that every time we have considered a variance, he has wanted to add to this that financial hardship is not a variance. Mr. Major said there is one other section to this ordinance, Section B, height variances , he recommend that be deleted. 35 feet is 35 feet. The fact that someone has a lot that is wide enough that it can be cut back 10 feet on each side does not mean it can go 5 feet higher. Mr. Callahan said that out of the entire code paragraph on height variances is the thing that keeps Tybee, Tybee. Mr. Callahan would like to see it taken out. Mr. Major said there are other citizens that have discussed this as well. We owe consideration to the fact that the City Attorney has cited on more than one occasion that there is case law on the books in Georgia that says that a substandard lot of record itself defines a hardship. If that’s the case, let’s put it in the ordinance so we don’t have to question and challenge it. Mr. Parks added Section B, height variance, is one of the most intimidating. The fact that we made a provision for a height variance goes contrary to everything he believes this island should have. The 5 Commission should wipe that right out, no variance for height. Ms. Otto said that she is more than willing to bring this back next month, try to find language to incorporate the various environmental, historic, safety and substandard lots of record, keeping the physical hardship to the property, and deleting that section, having the committee look at it again next month. Mr. Parks asked for any public that might have discussion of the 5-090, Variances. There was no public comment. Ms. Bryan added that this was the chance to get it right. Ms. Otto said that there is another situation that staff has been asked to look at when this section was reviewed, physical hardship for people, that they need elevators, ramps. Mr. Major and Ms. Bryan said that was a safety issue. Mr. Parks closed the discussion on 5-090. He asked for a motion to address the variance points that have been listed. Mr. Major made the motion, Mr. Callahan seconded. Ms. Otto asked for a brief break as she has a handout to distribute. A five minute recess was taken Mr. Park called the meeting back to order. He stated that there was a tex t amendment review for Section 4-050, District Use Regulations. It is not on the agenda and not something that has been published for the public. Ms. Otto explained that for the Planning Commission the agenda is the publication to the public. There are no ads in the newspaper. She said that this item came up very late this afternoon. The City Manager and Mayor asked that this be considered; therefore copies were made so that she would be prepared to present it, but whether or not the Commission takes action is completely up to them. The proposal is to modify Section 4-050 F, currently highlighted on the sheet is Item 2-C, Miniature Golf Courses. Item 2 requires that the uses have both special review and a site plan. The request, given the action taken some time ago on Section 5-080 regarding site plan and now, if adopted by Mayor and Council restrictions and conditions can be imposed on site plan. The request is to move Miniature Golf from Section 2 to Section 1, where it is a use permitted by right after site plan, understanding that site plan would allow the imposition of conditions. Again, this came up very late when realized that 5 -080 was being brought to the Commission tonight. That this would be immediate desire to have miniature golf be to your liking, a site plan and not special review and site plan. Mr. Callahan then asked if this would 2- C would become 1-L. Ms. Otto confirmed that was the case. Mr. Major asked who this came from. Ms. Otto confirmed it was from the Mayor and City Manager as a result of conversation with the Mayor. Mr. Parks stated 2-C was amusement parks. Ms. Otto said that originally modeling from C-1 which was commercial amusements. When a particular request got to C, that is when it got more specific. It was restricted to miniature golf. Mr. Parks asked why 2A wouldn’t and 2B not also move under 1. Now that we have recommended that 5-090, it can now allow Council to turn down a site plan even if it meets all requirements. Ms. Otto stated that she can’t say that change won’t be coming. It was this particular use that was requested. Mr. Parks asked if the Commission felt comfortable with adding this to the agenda. A discussion ensued. It was decided by informal vote that it will be presented next month. Mr. Major asked if what is being proposed with site plan review, if it was almost the same as special review and should it be considered that those be merged? The line is getting pretty thin between them. Mr. Parks said he understood that to go through the process of special review is an additional cost. Ms. Otto said there is site plan review with special variances and they do pay a fee for both site plan and variance and site plan and special review. Mr. Parks asked the fee. Ms. Otto explained that it is $500. Mr. Parks asked if there was someone that would be impacted if there is a 30 day delay. Ms. Otto said there may be someone whose timeframe she was not aware of. Mr. Major asked Ms. Otto if she could sit down with Mr. Hughes to say if we make these changes, do we have the same thing under two different items. 6 Ms. Otto said she would be glad to do so. She does not want to delay 5-080 as it is such a positive change. Parks said if there is specifically affected by the change, to save them the expense he does want to encourage business and growth, he would like to do that. He said with that remark, will see this next month. Mr. Major, as Ms. Otto is putting together language for height, where exception, it is not my intent that they not be there, and not restrict those. Ms. Otto said Code that allows exceptions is in Article 2. Mr. Levy explained, if design is proper on mechanical, there no reason to go over height limit. Mr. Parks, going to Item 2, where we left lighting, we were to set up a group of Commission members to go forward on lighting and wait to see what body would comprise of. Ms. Otto thought a meeting time outside of normal meeting would be held. She asked if a committee had been chosen and who would be on the committee. A discussion of the members on the committee ensued. Council did not want to form an Ad Hoc. It was decided that it will be a published committee at large; anyone in the public that wants can attend. It will be held an hour and half before a regular meeting at.5:30. Mr. Levy asked Ms. Otto to get a copy of the recommended motion for lighting from the Model Lighting International Dark Sky Association. Ms. Otto said that we already have that information and she will print it out again. The next meeting is March 20 and will meet at 5:30pm. Ms. Otto will provide the Article 18 and republish the package. Mr. Parks expressed appreciation for serving on the committee another year. Mr. Major made a motion to adjourn, Mr. Callahan seconded. The meeting was adjourned. Minutes prepared by Sharon Shaver