In the summer of 2021, the city council enacted a development moratorium on the Northeast District to enable planning for a Corcoran controlled water system and an update to design requirements for this part of the city. By state statute, this kind of moratorium cannot be longer than 12 months, and it has now expired. With expiration, new plans are expected to begin coming in for review in the fall of 2022.
The Northeast District has areas zoned for low density residential, mixed residential, commercial, mixed use, and business park, and light industrial areas. Much of the city’s non residential land is in this area, but the comprehensive plan updates developed in ~2018-2019 did not address the potential for conflict between adjacent uses. Areas where commercial and residential areas are in direct contact can result in poor matches where high intensity uses touch low intensity uses. Part of of the intent of the design guidelines are to ensure that such conflict is more easily minimized, and so that new amenities can help to offset any negative effects on existing residents.
The new guidelines also exclude some uses from this part of the city like contractor yards, mini storage, and auto repair to help these uses find appropriate locations in other parts of the city without consuming large amounts of resources and time.
Effect of Design Guide on Future Development
Parking: Because of the numerous interfaces between different zones, one risk is large parking lots spoiling the aesthetics of adjoining neighborhoods. The guidelines therefore require landscaped islands with trees every 12 spaces to break up the asphalt and provide shade.
Required Resiliency Options: Developments must include at least 3 of the following per the adopted guidelines:
- Xeriscaping (landscaping intended to be drought resistant and minimize the need for watering while remaining attractive.)
- Rain gardens/Bioretention Systems
- Green Rooftops (vegetation atop buildings) to reduce runoff and provide cooling
- Urban Garden
- Aesthetic Design (public art, fountains, plazas, perennial beds, etc.)
- Alternative energy and vehicle charging
- Landscaping with Native Species
These design standards help to establish a higher level of minimum requirements. One additional item that may be important in trying to ensure high quality development that preserves natural resources and rural character is the Planned Unit Development Ordinance. This is currently being reviewed by city council.
Most of the significant projects in the city come in as Planned Unit Developments because this ordinance allows developers to negotiate what would ordinarily be strict requirements in zoning code. To improve development quality, I proposed several changes to this ordinance and a work session discussing several of these can be found here.
I plan to have additional posts on this topic in the future as we move toward adopting updates later this year. I also intend to provide a post with updates on the planning for the water system to support this part of the city in the future,