Wednesday, February 13, 2013
The town of Signal Mountain’s Planned Unit Development ordinance will be under scrutiny in coming weeks, as Town Council members Dick Gee, Annette Allen, Bill Wallace and Susan Robertson passed a motion at their Feb. 4 work session to send a revision to the town’s Planning Commission for review.
“I think we have a very dysfunctional PUD ordinance,” said Allen. “Unfortunately ours was crafted in a very poor way. It does not allow the flexibility it should allow. I think the only answer is to redo our PUD ordinance. What we need is a PUD ordinance that doesn’t have specific parameters.”
The purpose of a PUD ordinance is to allow creativity and flexibility within the guidelines of a zoned area, explained Town Manager Honna Rogers. With a PUD, a developer can apply for variances that may not fit the norm of an area’s current zoning.
As it currently stands, though the Planning Commission reviews and sends a recommendation of a PUD to the Town Council for a vote, the Board of Zoning Appeals is the entity that can approve a variance.
Gee began the discussion at the work session by saying he recently received phone calls from two BZA representatives who were “uncomfortable” with approving variances in connection with High Acres Inc. and Jack Kruesi’s proposed subdivision, Wild Ridge at Fox Run. Rogers said they may have been uncomfortable because the proposed subdivision is out of their usual realm of work, which usually involves granting variances on specific homes.
“What really might be replaced and changed is the process for approval,” said Rogers. “The main problem is the way that the variances are done.”
Currently, the approval process for a PUD is a complicated one, said Rogers. While variances needed for a PUD to be approved by the Planning Commission are typically sent to the BZA for approval, in most other municipalities a variance for a PUD can be granted by the town council or planning commission, said Rogers.
Gee commented that if Kruesi’s development is approved, more unique developments might come up for discussion in the future, so it may be the right time for a change to the PUD ordinance.
Rogers also pointed out that if the PUD ordinance is changed at any point in the near future, Kruesi would have the option to wait until the changes have been completed to continue with the approval process, or he would be able to move forward with his PUD approval process as is because he applied for approval before the PUD ordinance was changed.