Sunday, December 30, 2012

Things you will hear

So far, I have heard a lot of unsupported assertions from the Planning Commission.

"Traditional Development"
The PC is using this to suggest that it is natural to have a substantial village in Underhill. In Underhill, the tradition is just the opposite: scattered settlement in service of unsustainable resource exploitation followed by abandonment. With the extraction of trees, then pasturing livestock, Underhill's buildings have been generally scattered throughout the town along the edges of main roads. With 14 school districts, Underhill was extremely decentralized -- no street network or grid, just roads through town. We do not have grand, old buildings -- not even old mills.

Beers Atlas, 1869

"We Need More Services"
Jericho's Riverside is Underhill's service village, while Underhill has always been the town with the mountain. Jericho, with old mills and substantial villages, is the natural place for services.

"Zoning Is Not Important"
Then why rezone and upset the town's delicate balance of services and resources?

"We Spent A Lot Of Time On This"
Well, not really. Precious little committee time has been devoted to the amendments.

"The Trend Is"
Fashions boom and bust. Following trends is foolish. It must make sense in context.

"The Town Plan Says"
Town plans say a lot of things. Mostly they are work plans for study.

"The Regional Plan Compels Us To..."
That's baloney. The main purpose for the regional plan is to reduce conflicts between town plans not dictate town development.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Most Restrictive District

"The most restrictive district applies to the whole parcel." It seemed like they said that about fifty million times at a recent PC meeting.

In the attempt to rationalize the gerrymandering of the proposed village districts, and the Range area boundary changes, Both the ZA and commissioners said it. It's nonsense. The zoning districts are where they are mapped. They do not move for parcels.

Zone interpretation is the first thing in the Unified Regs:

"The official zoning map and flood hazard area maps, located in the Underhill Town Office, shall be the final authority as to the current zoning status of land and waters in the town." (ULUDR 2012, section 2.1.B, p.3)

The district boundary interpretation is clearly spelled in the both old and the new zoning regulations. This is from the new regs.:

"The proposed use must be allowed on that portion of the lot within the district in which the use is to occur. If the use is to occur in both districts, it must be allowed within both districts." (ULUDR 2012, section 2.2.E.1, p.5)

There is also flexibility in interpreting the district boundaries. 

"The Development Review Board may allow, subject to conditional use review, the extension of district standards, except for road frontage requirements, up to a distance of 100 feet into either portion of the lot. Frontage requirements for the district in which the road frontage is located shall apply." (ULUDR 2012, section 2.2.E.3 p.5).

Eventually, ZA explained the wrong interpretation with respect to parcel PR025 ("most restrictive" zone applies to whole parcel), then the correct interpretation with respect to HR016 (zones apply as mapped). When asked if the interpretation for HR016 would also apply to PR025, the cognitive dissonance created a moment of silence.

There is an additional fallacy implied by the idea of the most restrictive district:  cumulative zoning. We don't have it. There is no ranking of zones. Each standard described for a zone has to be applied separately.