Thursday, March 10, 2005

Input due on zoning changes

By SUE WATSON
Staff Writer

Changes in Marshall County’s zoning ordinances and subdivision regulations were discussed at a public hearing February 28. The materials are available for public use at the zoning office during regular working hours, according to Larry Britt, county engineer.

The public is invited to review the materials, including new zoning maps, and submit suggestions for changes of the ordinances by March 14, he said. The ordinances have not been adopted by the board of supervisors.

Highlights of the major changes in zoning were presented to the public by planning consultant Ben Smith and Britt.

Smith said the book of new zoning maps are a major advancement for the public to use in determining how their property is zoned. Prior maps were so small that it often was difficult to see how a parcel was zoned using the old maps, he said.

The ordinances themselves were made more understandable by writing them in standard zoning language with the use of definitions and improved organization, Smith said.

Some significant changes in zoning have been made:

  • The minimum lot size in agricultural and agricultural-residential zoning districts has been increased from one acre to an acre and a half. Smith said the minimum lot size was increased to satisfy health department concerns relating to septic tank permitting.
  • A new Residential Estate Zoning District was created. The RE District is located primarily in District 3 in some areas that were previously zoned as agricultural-residential and before that as agricultural. The RE District, primarily located in the northwestern portion of the county, restricts new construction to single-family sticks and bricks type construction or modular dwellings.
  • Smith said new high-density residential construction must be built in areas where sewer systems are available or the developer will have to provide the sewer system.
  • The boundaries of floodplains are outlined in green on the new maps.
  • Site plans must be submitted for multi-family developments and RV parks.
  • New regulations in commercial and industrial districts require a 30 foot landscaped buffer area between those lots and adjoining agricultural and residential districts.
  • Motor vehicles that are inoperable and without current inspection stickers will be prohibited in all districts except industrial and commercial.

    The procedures for requesting variances, special exceptions, rezoning and for appeal are spelled out clearly in the new ordinances including any application forms that must be filed, Smith said.

    Britt reviewed the changes in subdivision regulations - a matter of interest to land developers.

  • Water and sewer regulations were taken out of the regulations and will be dictated by the municipalities that provide them - Potts Camp, Holly Springs and Byhalia and Kirkwood.
  • Streets or roads in subdivisions must be named by E-911 and be supplied on the subdivision plat.
  • Subdivision paving requirements have been changed. Three inches of asphalt are required, with the initial one and a half inches of asphalt applied first. The remainder is to be applied after the developer has sold homes and finished building. Any destruction to the first paving must be repaired before the final one and a half-inch of overlay is applied by the developer.
  • Electronic platting by engineers must be provided on computer disk for tax office use. Plats must be signed by a registered engineer and surveyor.
  • Developers must install driveway culverts ahead of time to avoid the responsibility falling back on the county.
  • Building setback requirements have been taken out of the subdivision regulations and placed in the zoning ordinances.
  • Water and sewer must be approved by the state or local utility district before a construction application is submitted.
  • Four concurring votes, rather than a simple majority, is required for approval of a motion before the planning commission or board of adjustment.

In the commenting period, Terry Robbins asked which would take precedent when there is a discrepancy between subdivision covenants and the planning commission regulations. He asked who would enforce the covenants.

“If the covenants are more restrictive than the regulations, then the covenants will rule,” Smith said. The homeowners or subdivision residents enforce the covenants, he said.

William Clark suggested that sanitary landfills be a use by special exception not only in agricultural districts but also by special exception in Heavy Industrial Districts, provided the landfill was no closer than 2,000 feet from a residence.

Del Stover of Red Banks commended the board on the upgrade in zoning, recommending its approval. He reminded the board that zoning may have to be revisited when the I-269 route through the county is set.

Patrick Terrell asked if rezoning requests will be harder to get approved in the future.

Britt said requests would be handled on a case-by-case basis and should not be any more difficult than in the past.

Animal control ordinances are being studied, according to board attorney Tacey Clayton. She said those ordinances could be available for public consideration in a few weeks.


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