Wed, April 08

County revamping subdivision ordinances

The subdivision ordinance is now a one-size-fits-all document. If a developer is developing six or 600 homes, they have to fulfill the same requirements. The new ordinance will lessen the burden on the smaller developers.

"By lessening the restrictions and streamlining the process, we hope to encourage small land owners and developers to come through our subdivision process," said Development Services Director Ken Spedding.

"Right now, we seem to be seeing more high-end developments or lot splits — very little in between. By developing the tiered system, we hope to see some quality smaller subdivisions where homes sell in the $100,000 to $150,000 range instead of the individual lot splits with dirt roads, no drainage, access issues, and each home having their own well," said Spedding.

The department’s staff and a group of citizens, including representatives from developers, title companies, realtors, land surveyors, and engineers, are developing the new ordinance.

When finished, it will address both the requirements portion and the process portions of the ordinance.

"Current restrictions can be overwhelming for a small developer and discourage them from creating a nice small subdivision. The current process, depending on the submittal, can also take six months to a year to go through. That is not acceptable to someone with a small piece if land who wants to begin developing right away. We hope the new ordinance will allow the process to be completed in as little as 90 days," said Spedding.

The department is also working on amending certain portions of the zoning ordinance. The ordinance was reworked earlier this year to make it more user friendly.

"We are now looking at about 20 items in the ordinance that either no longer work, no longer apply, no longer address their original intent or simply cannot be understood," said Enalo Lockard, assistant director of the Development Services Department who is spearheading the amendment writing.

Lockard’s staff has finished five of those amendments and hopes to have another five done soon and sent to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

Last year, the Department of Development Services also implemented the Uniform Building Code for all commercial buildings countywide. Previously, in certain areas of the county, the building code was not enforced for commercial buildings.

Also addressing commercial builders, the department has instituted a policy where they will sit down with commercial builders and review the plans with representatives of the various reviewing agencies so when the builder submits the plans for a permit they will know what is needed to be in compliance. It is hoped that the review process will help the builder avoid having to submit the plans several times.

"These updates are all part of an effort to write policies that make sense and make it easier for builders and developers to comply with the regulations. The end result being more orderly and quality growth for the county," said Spedding.

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