Councilwoman Boyer seeks to revise PUD process

Recommendations benefit developers with more detailed plans

By Steve DiMattia
Resident Community News

Lori Boyer is on a mission to streamline the planned unit development process, making it more efficient for developers and more user friendly for citizens.
The District 5 Councilwoman, informed by two years as a member and current chair of the Land Use and Zoning Committee, has revised the PUD portion of the zoning code (sections 656.340-344) to bifurcate the process and create restricted conventional zoning categories.

Her revisions provide two process options, depending on whether the PUD is more broadly written or more specific in its details. They also create an additional category within each of the current commercial zones that would be more restricted as to use, lighting, buffers, etc., but stay within the conventional category. An applicant could choose this option in lieu of a PUD, and satisfy many of the standard concerns of staff and adjacent property owners, according to Boyer.
A PUD is a type of rezoning that provides flexibility in planning, design, development and innovative approaches to the design of community environments, said Bruce Lewis, city planning supervisor. They are specific to a particular property and stay with that property even through an ownership change. PUDs cover multiple deviations and categories and are vetted through city council.

“Their purpose is to allow for a mix of uses that you can’t find in a conventional zoning district. For example, residential and commercial adjacent to each other,” Lewis said.
Currently, PUDs are all evaluated equally and go through the same channel regardless of how specifically or broadly they are written. Boyer’s recommendations would benefit developers who provide detailed PUDs by presenting a way for them to more quickly navigate the process. She is also concentrating on when in the process city officials and the public have an opportunity to present feedback.

“The PUD change is designed to allow the very general ‘bubble plans’ [more broadly written], but require subsequent site plan approval of that type, where more specific PUDs could follow a streamlined process that includes site plan approval at the time of adoption,” Boyer explained in an email – to which a draft of her revisions was attached – sent out to constituents and various stakeholders, including citizen’s groups, preservation societies, developers, realtors and attorneys.
Boyer described three main reasons for the revisions during an interview in her office shortly after she presented the plan for vetting to a group of interested developers, business owners and city officials during a Jan. 10 open

“First, Someone who doesn’t have an attorney or some organization that wants to get involved in a PUD that has been filed should be able to look at the ordinance code and clearly understand what the criteria are, how it’s going to be evaluated and then have the opportunity to have valid input. The way we currently operate tends to make it very difficult for the person who is not a regular in the process to follow the process and to know what hoops to jump through,” Boyer said. “So, it’s public disclosure: Everybody is on the same footing and understands what the process is and how we’re looking at it.

“Second, there’s currently an overuse of the PUD process stemming from an overly broad expansion that has allowed us to approve very general plans without any later input from the planning commission, city council or public. That leaves subsequent decisions totally to the discretion of planning department staff, which often is very good, but they don’t always agree on what the public and council members’ positions are or on what planning commission members might think.

“Third, the PUD is a time consuming and costly process that causes a lot of uncertainty for applicants and for people who have some vested interest in the plan. I think from everybody’s standpoint, we’re all about efficiency in government. And from an economic development standpoint, for those where we do have a very specific site plan, let’s streamline the process. Let’s save some administrative dollars on that.”

Boyer is pushing to have her modifications vetted and to committees by the end of February.
See a draft of the PUD zoning code modifications here:

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