Zoning Ordinance Changes

Published 4:05 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2011

CUMBERLAND – The County's Planning Commission continued with its work to bring Cumberland's ordinances for development and zoning up-to-date by holding a public hearing on its out-dated zoning ordinance on Monday, May 23.

The County's zoning ordinance has been in effect since 1990 and hasn't had major work done to it since its inception and, although this is just the beginning, these amendments will begin to bring conformity because the proposed new subdivision ordinance is being considered by the Board of Supervisors this month.

The zoning ordinance amendments propose to make lot standards much clearer and put needed growth in growth areas and preserve rural areas of Cumberland by requiring perspective developers to have open space and conservation areas.

The Commission's public hearing was to amend, renumber, and re-enact Chapter 74 of the Cumberland Code, which is a comprehensive revision of the zoning district titles, permitted uses by subdivision type, the dimensional standards, and the zoning terms corresponding to such standards for zoning districts in the zoning ordinance.

It is important to note that as part of the changes and this process, no properties in Cumberland are being rezoned.

According to the summary provided with the updates from former Planning Director Andrew Sorrell, the ordinance controls and regulates land uses within Cumberland while the subdivision ordinance (set for a public hearing by the Supervisors on June 14) controls divisions of land and improvements when needed.

“The zoning ordinance regulates where particular subdivision types are permitted and the dimensional standards of lots, among other things,” stated Sorrell in that information. “The zoning ordinance also describes specific permitted land uses either as uses permitted by-right or as uses permitted by condition.”

The zoning ordinance also breaks land into different zoning districts, such as residential, agricultural, and commercial.

The recent work done by the Planning Commission proposes to target where residential uses are permitted, according to Sorrell's summary.

“The changes amend and update the lot standards…as well as the zoning district intents,” continued the information. “Additional uses have been added to zoning districts where residential uses are permitted to clarify what subdivision types are permitted in such districts.”

Zoning Ordinance Changes

Some of the proposed changes, approved by the Commission after its public hearing and recommended to the Supervisors, include the following:

Major subdivisions in agricultural and residential (R-1, R-2, and R-3) zoning districts will be required to be developed in cluster developments.

Larger percentages of land will be required to be reserved in conservation for major developments in the rural parts of the county that have agricultural zoning.

And, as an encouragement and incentive to locate closer and within the designated growth areas, less land will be required to be reserved for conservation within identified residential areas.

Another incentive outlined in the proposed zoning ordinance is that denser residential developments can be supported by public water and sewer and so greater flexibility will be allowed in these areas by the zoning ordinance when perspective developers are looking for places to develop within Cumberland.

To discourage residential development in the rural parts of Cumberland, the minimum lot size detailed in the amendments to the ordinance in agricultural zoned areas would be two acres.

Bret Schardein, planning and zoning technician, noted to The Herald on Friday that there were no speakers signed up to address the changes proposed for the zoning ordinance during the public hearing on May 23 and that the Commission unanimously supported a recommendation to send the zoning ordinance changes to the Board of Supervisors for consideration.

The Board's public hearing for the zoning ordinance amendment will be held on Tuesday, June 14.

The Board is also scheduled to hold a separate public hearing on the proposed overhaul of the County's subdivision ordinance the same night.