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Originally published: 2013-03-01 11:58:34
Last modified: 2013-03-01 11:58:34

Nonconformities among draft Boone UDO changes

by Anna Oakes

Recommended changes to procedures for nonconforming uses and structures drew the most interest at the first of three public workshops on revisions to Boone's Unified Development Ordinance on Thursday.

The town of Boone's planning staff, attorney, Town Council and Planning Commission have worked to revise the UDO and its Table of Permissible Uses since October 2010. The town will hold public workshops and a public hearing before the council adopts the revised document later in the spring.

Under Title II and Article 7 of the UDO draft prepared by planning staff are proposed provisions related to nonconformities that occur when uses, lots, signs, structures and other aspects of development that came into existence lawfully no longer conform to one or more requirements of the UDO.

The proposed draft strikes through more than eight pages of language related to nonconformities in the current UDO and replaces it with new language and proposed procedures, including a new tiered system for bringing nonconforming structures into compliance.

Under the current UDO, major repairs or renovations of nonconforming structures estimated to cost more than 50 percent of the appraised value of the structure are required to come into compliance with the UDO.

The proposed revision to this section establishes four tiers of compliance requirements that are triggered by the cost of the proposed new development. Under this new language, the cost of alterations are compared to the value of the development, which includes not only the value of the structure but also the land on which it sits.

James Milner, a commercial real estate broker, said he felt this was a "radical change."

"Land is so often the driving force of value, even if it's the tax value," Milner said.

Bailey said the result of this is that alterations that triggered full UDO compliance in the past now may only require compliance with a few UDO requirements.

"The overall impact is you're doing less work," he said.

Tier 1, as proposed, dictates that alterations in which the cost is certified to exceed 10 percent of the value of the development shall require compliance with requirements for bicycle parking, color, lighting and landscape standards.

Tier 2, as proposed, mandates that alterations exceeding 25 percent of the development value must comply with with Tier 1 and with solid waste, recycling and sign requirements.

Tier 3, as proposed, requires alterations exceeding 50 percent of the development value to comply with Tier 1 and 2 and also requirements for drainage and stormwater facilities, pedestrian circulation and sidewalks, parking, community appearance and floodway and special flood hazard.

Tier 4, as proposed, requires alterations exceeding 75 percent of the development value to comply with all UDO requirements unless compliance is impossible.

"We hope the concepts are right, but the numbers can be modified," said town attorney Sam Furgiuele.

The draft makes an exception for alterations or new structures that repair or replace nonconforming structures damaged by fire, flood, wind or other "act of God." These structures may be restore to their original condition as long as a building permit is issued within 12 months of the damage date and the structure is not located in a floodway or special flood hazard area.

Procedures for nonconforming structures differ from those for nonconforming uses. The drafted text provides that a nonconforming use may continue indefinitely unless the use ceases operations for a period of 180 days within any 12-month time period. A nonconforming use would not be permitted to increase in volume, frequency or intensity, and a change of use could only be to a permissible use in the zoning district, which is the same in the current UDO.

The Boone Town Council voted at the meeting to move the date of the second public workshop on UDO revisions from March 6 to Monday, March 25. Planning staff requested more time to prepare the second section of the draft UDO. The workshop will take place from 5 to 8 p.m.