City Council tables Unified Development Ordinance amendment

Published 6:06 pm Monday, December 26, 2022

A move to add clarity to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance was tabled Wednesday night for additional review.

At its Dec. 21 meeting, City Council tabled an ordinance to amend Chapter 31 of the ordinance for 120 days and to be re-evaluated on April 19. This was continued from the council meeting held on Oct. 19.

“It’s a clarification of our existing regulations,” Planning and Community Development Interim Director Kevin Wyne said. “The existing language in this code, we saw could benefit from some additional clarity to reinforce the intent of the minor subdivision review and approval process.”

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Wyne said adoption of the amendment will not change the interpretation of the city’s minor subdivision provision.

“What this will do, it will reinforce the city’s minor subdivision process to eliminate any future misinterpretation as it relates to the location of minor subdivision cuts,” he explained.

One of the changes is providing a definition to “parent tract.”

“A lot parcel, or a tract of land legally established prior to March 1, 1970, of which a plat or legal description is recorded in the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office,” according to the proposed ordinance. Updates also include language and addition of applicants submitting a title report prepared by a title examiner that verifies the ownership and subdivision history of the parcel being subdivided.

Suffolk resident Chris Dove spoke in support of the change.

“As someone who actually reads the UDO, I can only support this amendment. Clarification and codification in plain language is something to be strived for all the times in public,” Dove said.

Owner and president of Courtney and Associates Wayne Courtney said he opposes the change due to concerns of “unintended consequences.”

“One primary issue of concern is that the definition of the parent tract as proposed, combined with the fact that each parent tract cannot be subdivided with the boundary line adjustment plat between properties owned by different owners is very problematic,” Courtney said. “This requirement leads to a situation whereby some properties that are fortunate enough to have road frontage necessary to create three lots in a resident become far more valuable than those that have less than enough or no road frontage at all.”

After Councilman Roger Fawcett spoke on tabling the motion, Councilman Donald Goldberg and Councilman Timothy Johnson agreed with the motion of tabling the ordinance for another 120 days.

Finally, Mayor Michael Duman spoke in favor of tabling the ordinance.

“Personally, what I would like to see would be to clarify exactly what’s on the books,” Duman said. “There still needs, in my opinion, to have an avenue to request a variance similar to a conditional use permit. Because each one of these is going to be different.”

He said they’re all going to be different lot sizes, with different furnishings, and some of them will have larger rear parcels than front parcels.

“Everyone needs to know what the expectations are, so I have no problem with tabling this for 120 days and hopefully come up with the right solution,” Duman said. “I mean, in my world, I try to keep everybody happy. So we can do what we can intend on doing as far as agriculture is concerned and then we can also be aware of people’s property rights and give them more latitude to do what they want to do with their property.”

The decision to table the ordinance was unanimous with an 8-0 vote. It will be revisited at the April 19 meeting.