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Panel reviews site plan ordinance

Informal meeting considers waivers, funding, fences

By Elizabeth Wilkerson -- ewilkerson@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- Officials took up several potential changes to an ordinance outlining Strasburg's site plan requirements Tuesday night.

At an informal meeting of the Town Council's ordinance committee, Scott Terndrup, who leads the panel, said the ordinance allows the town manager to waive any requirements of the site plan section "where the waiver is not adverse to the purpose of this section and the applicant establishes that in his specific case an undue hardship would result from a strict enforcement of this section."

Terndrup asked if officials should consider having the town planner and chairman of the Planning Commission help the town manager decide whether waivers are warranted. Councilwoman Sarah Mauck said she didn't think the commission chairman should be included because "this would put him in an administrative-type job."

Maybe, Terndrup said, the ordinance should not say "any" of the requirements can be waived.

"This just seems like a blanket waiver," he said.

Town planner Judson Rex said the ordinance should be more specific about which requirements could be waived.

Terndrup asked "what would be a situation in which a site plan would not be required," and Rex said that was a great question. There are basically two types of plans -- those for new sites and those for modified sites, Rex said.

"I don't think we should ever give a waiver in a new building type of situation," he said.

Terndrup said he didn't know the history of the waiver provision, but "I just see how it could be misused." Before the next round of development starts, he said, the town needs to be in a position to get the kind of development it wants.

Officials have also discussed whether a bond should be required before site disturbance begins, so the town can restore the site if the development falls through, Terndrup said.

"I don't think a shovel should turn without money in the bank," he said.

One official raised the question of whether construction fences should be required at building sites, Terndrup said. Requiring the fences is fairly common in other parts of the state, but "I think we'd have to carefully word it," he said.

Mauck said fences could lead to rubbernecking and, if the fences are ugly, they won't do anything to enhance the town. She asked if the town could research the issue, and Rex said he would.

"There are a bunch of other things I would include in here," Rex said of the ordinance, and he may "throw them into the mix" at the panel's next meeting.

"I think now is definitely the time to tighten this up as much as we can," Terndrup said.

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