Dexter Planning Commission to Revise Zoning Ordinance

The coming new year will be a busy one for the Dexter Planning Commission as it rewrites the zoning ordinance.

The commission is working with Carlisle Wortman on reorganizing and making the document user friendly. To accomplish this, the company is proposing placing all the districts in one chapter.
“I have provided a use table which is meant for discussion purposes,” Carlisle Wortman Associate Laura Kreps said. “It is in no way completed in any way.”

The table is the product of the existing ordinance and comments from commission members who responded to a request for information by Kreps. She added some definitions and updated terminology and made educated guesses to place them in the right locations.
Some uses are not listed that need to be discussed include hospitals (most towns have one in their ordinance, accessory dwelling units (how are they to be defined).

“Some of these terms are special land uses and they have specific use requirements,” Kreps said. “And that’s another exercise.”
Kreps is ready to delve into the section or she can come back later if the commission wants more time. She is also working on other sections so she is flexible on which ones need to tackled first.

“This section is going to take us awhile to get through,” Kreps said. “It’s such an important part of the ordinance we want to make sure we are working on all the uses we want to have, getting rid of those that we feel are no longer applicable, making sure our specific use standards and definitions are clear for the use we have in a district.”

The use table lists uses (agricultural, residential, recreational, institutional/cultural, retail, entertainment, service, office, industrial and automotive and transportation on one side with districts (residential, commercial and industrial) across the top. The table gives a “P” for permitted uses and an “S” for special uses.

It can be found on page 14 of the Planning Commission’s work session packet

The commission is charged with looking at the uses and determining where it would be most appropriate. Members will have to determine if some uses are appropriate in various places within specific limitations.

Kreps will send members a chart with areas she believes require more discussion.

Those include the community garden and planned unit developments. All mixed use developments could be considered a PUD, but that could be resolved through rezoning, Kreps said.

“Primary and secondary schools are not listed as a special use in any district,” Kreps said. “That is something we need to think about and discuss.”

Planning Commission Chair Matt Kowalski wanted to clarify what Kreps had done via the chart. That was to take the existing ordinance and turn it into a grid. Which was OK, he said.

“I did take some liberty with terminology,” Kreps said. “For the most part this what you have. I did, based upon the comments, modify it a little bit.”

The commission is going to have to take some time together or separately and think about each use, and go through the ordinance comparing them to other districts.

“And then think about potentially other uses that are on this table that may also work,” Kreps said. “There are an infinite number of ways and items. Maybe there are some terms we can define in a different manner.”

The revision is necessary because of the way the current ordinance was developed.

“The problem is our Zoning Ordinance has grown organically over the years,” Kowalski said.

“It evolved and we added a new zoning district. We may have added one but not thought of all the uses.”

The city’s decision to conduct comprehensive review is the best way to look at the zoning ordinance, Kreps said.This way the city can hit all the items at once and reference what it should be referencing, she said.

“I would like you to be focusing on is the residential districts,” Kreps said. “Think about especially dwelling units, think about home occupations, the types of residential housing you want in each district and let’s go from there.”

Taking the ordinance in sections is the best approach, she said.
“I know it’s overwhelming,” Kreps said. “I think you can a more thorough and involved discussion if do a chunk at a time.”

Kowalski and the commission agreed. While the commission studies the larger sections, Kreps will feed them statutory requirements that don’t require much debate so more progress can be made.
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“We are updating it because of state law,” Kreps said.

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