By QUINT QUALLS
Spring Hill residents got their initial introduction Tuesday in what is expected to be a 15-month process to overhaul the city’s zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations.
Representatives of planning and zoning consultant Camiros, the firm selected for the task of rewriting the city’s code, presented residents with an overview of the process at a Tuesday night town hall meeting. Because the process is in its early stages, the project team members did not yet have any recommendations or approaches to present to residents.
Arista Strungys and Chris Jennette, of Camiros, explained they would be working to create a Unified Development Code, combining the zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations to ensure consistency among the requirements and processes, and to make the rules easier to understand.
“Zoning is what you can do with your piece of land,” Strungys said. “It sets what uses you can have, it sets where you can build your buildings, how big that building can be; it looks at issues like landscaping, parking and signs, what are the regulations on those, really controlling what you can do with that piece of land.
“Subdivision is the rule for dividing things into buildable lots, and including any public improvements that you may be required to build, as well, if you’re doing a larger scale subdivision. And here, with the high rate of growth you already have, you’re probably already familiar with subdivisions and the issues that come up. It’s really looking at those processes and how they work.”
The project team members also emphasized some of the broader policies they hope to achieve throughout the process, such as smart growth, a range of commercial and residential uses, connected development, linking transportation and land use, economic development, green infrastructure and rural character preservation.
Residents were given a chance to put questions to Camiros representatives. One of the foremost concerns voiced at Tuesday’s meeting was the issue of developers who fail to maintain common open space and other facilities in completed subdivisions.
In response to one woman’s comment about drainage easement and water runoffs causing flooding because they are not properly maintained, Strungys said existing subdivisions would be sort of “grandfathered” into the updated rules.
“We’ve heard this before, you have an HOA that’s supposed to take care of something, it doesn’t and you have problems,” she said. “That’s why we have Volkert working with us on how we can work with setting up HOAs so that moving forward there’s a way for it to be handled responsibly.”
On the issue of a lack of enforcement of zoning and subdivisions rules, Strungys added that part of their job will be to make the rules consistent and apply them across the board in order to streamline effective enforcement procedures, which can often get bogged down when there are so many different rules and special approvals.
The process is expected to last for more than a year in total. Right now, the project is in month three of a total 15-month process, and it is currently still in the evaluation phase, with a technical report and public workshop to soon follow Tuesday night’s meeting.
The next phase, drafting of the zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations update, will be the lengthiest part of the process and is anticipated to last from month five through 12, according to the project timeline.
The project will also have its own website, where all documents will be made available to the public. Residents will also be able to submit comments online via www.SpringHillUDC.com, which will go live Wednesday.
The full length town hall meeting was livestreamed on Facebook, and is available online at the City of Spring Hill’s page.
Quint Qualls covers Spring Hill for Home Page Media Group. Reach him at [email protected].