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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Nichols

Future Code Updates & Working Session Topics

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

At the Corcoran planning commission meeting tonight, Councilor Alan Schultz delivered updates from the previous council meetings to the planning commission, and there was considerable discussion on a few points that should interest residents of the city. As I mentioned to hundreds of residents over the summer when campaigning, there are some opportunities to improve the city code. At this meeting there was discussion of a desire to arrange for some working sessions to dive into some of these issues and attempt to improve the code. It is very exciting to have the opportunity to start these discussions and to hear the enthusiam from the planning commissioners.

As I have been engaged on these issues for a while now and have spoken with many residents about there concerns, I would like to share some of the topics that have been shared with me as ideas for improvement:

Changes to Better Guide Utility Infrastructure

This is a current issue in parts of Corcoran due to the code currently allowing utility infrastructure in all zones. Reforms to control size, height, and type in lower intensity zones are common sense reforms that should be considered.

• Changes to incentivize cluster housing development in sewered areas.

I have written about this in the past and discussed it with hundreds of residents who supported the concept enthusiastically. We currently attempt to incentivize this in the rural portions of the city and should evaluate how we can attract this style of development in the sewered areas. Indeed, even in the rural area, the lack of activity in developments of this type should be evaluated to determine whether the incentives in the rural areas are significant enough to overcome other barriers in the code, like requirements for curbs and gutters even in rural neighborhoods.

• Introduce required time delay for re-platting land into minor subdivisions after the lots have already been re-platted in the previous (some number of) years, or make the re-platting discretionary on the city’s part until (some number of) years have passed.

• One or more of: Remove ability to transfer building rights from non buildable land

or Remove building rights from non-buildable land or Require a Conditional Use Permit (CUP)/other process for building rights transfers that considered adjacent uses

This was suggested by residents who have been negatively impacted by building rights being transferred from land they believed to be unbuildable onto a parcel that, if construction proceeds, would have a strongly negative impact on the property value of their parcels.

• Increase size of trees required in new developments and consider giving incentives/credit for maintaining existing mature trees.

• Remove conditional uses from RSF1 and RSF2.

There was a council working session on this topic in the fall. It still requires further follow up. This would eliminate places of assembly/schools from being able to be built within low-density, residential areas without the area being re-zoned.

• Increase requirements for buffers between residential and other zones, and between different residential densities

In recent development proposals it was clear that for large structures adjacent to residential areas, the minimum buffer requirements were not stringent enough. This also applies to any residential uses adjoining commercial, industrial, or even higher density residential uses. Buffers between different zones should be more closely evaluated for adequacy based on the scales of facilities that could be permitted.

• Revisit minimum garage sizes for different home types and determine if these should exist, and if so, at what level.

• Garage frontage requirements- change from single story only % and consider both single story garage frontage (if one story) or whole front face (if multi story).

This has come up in the last several Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) and it is worth discussing whether the requirement is important, and whether it should be modified, strengthened, or enforced as is.

• Consider provisions/policies to better protect areas identified as ecologically significant in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

• Consider provisions to improve the quality of the landscape in newly developed areas

These have both been suggested by the planning commission in the past, and were re-iterated tonight.

The city is changing rapidly. We should take the opportunity to make important changes sooner rather than later to ensure future growth preserves what makes Corcoran unique. I’d love some discussion on which of these resonate with residents, or if you have other ideas not presented here.

• Consider updates to sign ordinances to broaden permissions in commercial and industrial areas

• Consider updates to better regulate signs for home occupation businesses in residential areas

At the Corcoran Business Community forum, several owners complained that the city’s requirements for signs caused them to present signs on roads with poor visibility, or be made of materials or designs that did not fit with their business architecture or be prohibitively expensive. Residents have also had issues with home occupation signs in residential areas being too large for their neighborhood. These should be evaluated as part of our efforts to provide suitable controls for different areas of the city.

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