The planning staff has been working for the last 12 months to develop the document — the City of Clinton Land Development Ordinance. The LDO will replace the city’s current zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations that are approximately 15 years old, city officials said.
It has not yet been approved, but is set to be discussed again at next week’s City Council meeting.
Jeff Vreugdenhil, planning director of Clinton-Sampson Planning and Development, presented the proposed document to Council at the beginning of September so it could be reviewed prior to the October meeting, scheduled for Tuesday. A public hearing was held at that time, following which the matter was continued until Oct. 5.
Vreugdenhil said the draft of the LDO has already been unanimously recommended by the Planning and Zoning Board to repeal and replace not only the current zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations, but also Planning Board By-laws, Board of Adjustment By-laws and Utility Extension Policy.
“The LDO combines a lot of existing documents like the subdivision and zoning ordinances,” he said. “But that’s just a minor part of it.”
Along with the proposed LDO itself, the planning director provided City Council with a memorandum identifying some of the significant changes in operational procedures being proposed in the LDO from existing zoning and subdivision ordinances. The proposed document includes contents from the older documents, combining them with newer addendums to bring them up to date, all while providing more development options, Vreugdenhil said.
“The majority of the proposed changes are designed to assist developers and staff to readily identify various processes and applications,” said Vreugdenhil. “Over time, development criteria changes and we’ve incorporated different strategies for development. The LDO allows developers more options they did not have in the past with the dated documents.”
There are numerous changes, but a few notable ones are those that enable cluster development to preserve open space.
“In an R-8 subdivision that allows for 12 houses on a certain number of acres, you can still put the same number of houses on the tract but it allows developers to condense housing on the acreage so there is some open space,” he explained.
Another LDO addition allows for smaller freestanding signs to be moved closer to the road. Under the stipulation, the setback distance for freestanding signs is reduced to just 10 feet from the right of way, while the maximum height of signs is similarly reduced from 25 feet to 20 feet.
The proposed LDO also covers green space and landscaping, including standards for providing it within the city limits and incentives for including more than required.
According to the city’s proposed general green space standard, “All new or expanding commercial development shall designate a minimum of 15 percent of the total site area for green space.”
A minimum of half of the required green space must be located along the street front with the most traffic and visibility. Although not required, planting of trees and other live vegetation is preferred in order “to provide a more pleasing view from the travel way and to provide a continuity of vegetation throughout the city,” the proposed ordinance states.
There are incentives to going beyond the requirements.
In addition to the required 15 percent, incentives are available for creating additional green space or landscaping on a particular commercial site. The proposed LDO states that for every 5 percent increase in green space, 10 percent can be reduced from the total parking requirement.
Where 30 percent or more area is provided or reserved as green space, a 30 percent reduction in the required total parking space will be allowed. Similarly, for every three large trees, or every eight ornamental trees, planted and preserved per acre, five parking spaces may be reduced from the total spaces required. According to the LDO draft, at least five large shade trees, or 10 ornamental trees, shall be planted and preserved per acre to qualify for the 30 percent parking reduction.
City officials said the ordinance further carries out goals for beautifying the city while planning for future development. Vreugdenhil said the document acts as a comprehensive reference tool for city planners, but also as a beneficial guide for residents and developers.
“For somebody looking online, it’s all in the same document,” he said. “I think the primary benefits are for citizens and developers. It’s all in one document. There won’t be multiple sources.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 121, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.