Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Design Manual

A draft of the Design Manual was presented to the Planning Commission at their last meeting. This document is a companion to the newly revised Subdivision Code.

The intent of the Manual is to provide an overview of the new Code to stakeholders in a format that is easily understood. This will be especially useful for non-professional stakeholders, such as community members.

You can view a draft of the Document below. It is scheduled to go before City Council at the next available meeting.

If you have any questions please contact City of Oak Harbor, Senior Planner, Ethan Spoo.

Oak Harbor Subdivision Design Manual 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Your Chance to Get Involved

The process of updating the City of Oak Harbor's Municipal Code is nearing its last few steps.  

The Planning Commission has received copies of the "staff draft" of the compiled Code amendments for review (OHMC 19.31 and OHMC 21 - see previous posts).  Shortly the City will hold a Public Hearing on the suggested Code amendments for City Council to make its final decision.  

The public hearing will be the last opportunity for the City to take your comments regarding the Code amendments associated with this Project.

Until the Public Hearing, Planning Staff are available to answer questions and receive your comments; contact Senior Planner Ethan Spoo at the City of Oak Harbor, 360-279-4513 or email:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Public hearing

The next draft of the amended Code will be presented to the Planning Commission at the regularly scheduled public meeting on July 28th. This draft will incorporate, as appropriate, the comments provided to staff by July 14th

During the July 28th Planning Commission there will be a public hearing to take further public comments prior to the Planning Commission forwarding a recommendation on the revised Code to City Council.

Comments on the draft Code

In the last post we provided copies of the completed first drafts of the revised Codes that deal with subdivisions and PRDs in Oak Harbor.  

Comments on these two drafts can provide meaningful insight and staff would appreciate these by July 14th.  

Comments can be left on the blog or sent directly to Senior Planner Ethan Spoo at the City of Oak Harbor, email: , tel: 306-293-4513.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Draft Code Language - Chapter 19.31 and Title 21

After a significant process that has included staff resources, stakeholder input and a series of public meetings with the Planning Commission a first draft of OHMC 19.31 and Title 21, with all the combined changes, are available for review (see below)

The Planning Commission received both drafts yesterday evening at the regularly scheduled public meeting. Hard copies of the legislative edits of these documents are available at City Hall.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

CTED Update

In addition to the work to develop and review the draft Code, staff are also currently crafting a status report for CTED.  This is a requirement for the Project as CTED has provided funding to the City of Oak Harbor to complete the Subdivision Code Update.

Just as with the previous status report, once complete, this report will be posted for public access on the blog.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Draft Code Language

Currently staff are generating and reviewing the complete set of Code changes for the Project. This is an extensive process that takes into account all the work to date and the information generated throughout the Project.

The Planning Commission has already reviewed draft language for the Code amendments during a number of their regularly scheduled public meetings. Earlier blog posts detail these changes, with copies of the draft code also available for viewing.

In addition to the more "significant" changes proposed for the Code, the drafts being generated currently also include a number of "housekeeping" changes that deal with 1) the format of the Code, 2) the structure of the regulations to improve overall readability, and 3) Code language simplifications and redundancies.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Commercial Uses in Subdivisions

Part of the issue of including other uses in PRD neighborhoods is the overall viability of these secondary uses.  

The Planning Commission was concerned that allowing small-scale commercial or office uses might result in businesses that fail and leave the neighborhood with vacant space right in the heart of the neighborhood.   The issue was one of ensuring the balance between residential and secondary uses is appropriate to foster success.  

Staff clarified to the Planning Commission that the proposed Code language is opening PRDs to the possibility of including mixed use or town center concepts with supportive secondary uses. The final decision is one to be made by the applicant, who will decide what the viability of the commercial uses will be.  Staff also pointed out that some types of uses may be more viable in the future with new gridded street patterns and development patterns being developed as a result of the Code changes initiated by this project.  

Concerns over the types of uses that could be integrated in the PRD were also discussed.  These were addressed when staff talked about how the Code would be structured to include a strictly defined set of uses (as described by the Planning Commission as “service-oriented commercial" - dry cleaners, barbershops, etc.).

Review - April PC Presentation

Staff used the materials below during the April Planning Commission meeting; this is included as an imbedded copy so that it can be read online; as well as a link to download the report in PDF or text file (see the Documents section of the sidebar).

To read the document in full screen mode select the "full screen toggle" button in the frame around the document.

Review- March 09 PC Presentation

Here are the materials used by staff during the March Planning Commission Meeting.

The information is included as an imbedded copy so that it can be read online; as well as a link to download the report in PDF or text file (see the Documents section of the sidebar).
To read the document in full screen mode select the "full screen toggle" button in the frame around the document.

Review - Feb PC Presentation

The handout below is from the February Planning Commission Meeting and is included as an imbedded copy so that it can be read online; as well as a link to download the report in PDF or text file (see the Documents section of the sidebar).

To read the document in full screen mode select the "full screen toggle" button in the frame around the document.

Review - January PC Presentation

The final steps of the Planning Commission's review of the Subdivision Code Update are underway.  These will include the review of the Code language as it reads after all the suggested changes have been made.  

To allow the Planning Commission members, and others, to refresh their memory of the discussions since January of this year, the handout materials used during the meetings are being published on the blog.

Below is the handout for January's meeting, included an imbedded copy so that it can be read online; as well as a link to download the report in PDF or text file (see the Documents section of the sidebar).

To read the document in full screen mode select the "full screen toggle" button in the frame around the document.

Jan 09 Planning Commission Materials

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mixed-use Buildings vs. Neighborhood Center

One of the issues that was addressed by the Planning Commission during their last meeting was the integration of other land uses into PRD developments.  The PRD Code has always envisioned the integration of supportive uses in residential PRD subdivisions.

One of the suggested amendments presented for the PRD Code update is to create more refined standards for the integration of other uses in PRD neighborhoods.   

The concept of commercial in residential areas (provided they are tightly regulated to ensure compatibility) was seen as a positive by the Planning Commission.  The preference being the integration of mixed uses in residential PRD developments with developments that are more like "Town Centers" than mixed-use buildings. 

The regulations that structure how these "Town Center" type additions to PRDs are designed will focus on many different aspects, including:

  • walkability;
  • appropriate architecture:
  • appropriate location (central to new PRD);
  • addressing impacts such as building size, traffic impacts, orientation to the street; and,
  • specifically defined list of approvable uses that are compatible.  

Friday, May 22, 2009

Draft Code: PRD Open Space

The other main area of discussion during last month's Planning Commission meeting was the development of standards for the design of open space within Planned Residential Developments (PRD).

The main interest was to address the difficulty inherent in reviewing open space plans for PRDs caused by the structure of the Code and limited direction it provided to assess proposed open space designs.

Resulting from that discussion, the following draft Code has been written to provide parameters for creating more accessible, usable, and visible open spaces within neighborhoods. The new regulations will define things such as minimum sizes and dimensions; provision of necessary connectivity for pedestrians; required amenities; and, integration of stormwater facilities. The Planning Commission will be reviewing this language as part of its regularly scheduled meeting next week.
_________________________________________– Design – Active Open space.
Common open space shall be provided for use as recreational, park or environmental amenity for the collective enjoyment by occupants of the PRD project, and designed as follows:
(1) Common open space shall comprise at least 10 percent of the gross area of the PRD;
(2) Common open space shall not include public or private streets, driveways, buffers, screens, perimeter landscaping, parking areas or the required or provided yards for buildings or structures;
(3) A minimum of 50 percent of all required open space in a PRD shall be “active” open space. Active open space provides opportunities for physical activity to residents of the PRD. Active open space must meet the following requirements:
(a) Be a minimum of 5,000 square feet in size to be counted toward the minimum 10 percent open space requirement. The space must also have a minimum width of 50 feet and depth of 90 feet.
(b) Have a minimum of 40 feet of frontage on a public street.
(4) Shall contain such accessory or complementary structures and improvements as are necessary and appropriate for the benefit and enjoyment of residents of the project, and shall include at a minimum:
(a) Pedestrian-oriented lighting
(b) Seating
(c) Signage indicating what the operational hours and rules for the use of the open space
(d) Trash can(s)
(e) An activity center such as children’s play structure, tennis courts, basketball courts, walking / bicycling paths or a trail-head kiosk at the entrance of a trail system. There are other types of activity centers other than those listed here which can be proposed by applicants. Any proposed activity centers within active open spaces shall provide exercise opportunities for residents of the PRD.
(5) Active open spaces must be visible and accessible to users, not hidden behind residential lots.
(6) Active open spaces must have pedestrian connections to both sides of a residential block on which it is located.
(7) All open spaces shall be privately-owned and maintained by the homeowners association.
(8) If a public open space or park is designated on the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan within the boundaries of a proposed PRD, it must be provided and can be credited toward the required 10 percent open space.
(9) Trails and adjacent open spaces can count toward the minimum required 10 percent open space requirement in PRDs, provided that the trails meet the requirements of OHMC section 19.XX.XXX.
(10) 50% of stormwater ponds may count as open space within the PRD. However, no more than 25 percent of the required 10 percent open space in a PRD may be stormwater pond. Ponds which are counted toward open space requirements must meet a high level of design and be an amenity to residents and must have all of the following characteristics:
Be landscaped. At least 75 percent of the pond basin (sides and bottom) shall be landscaped.
(a)Be a “wet-pond” not a “dry-pond.” Wet ponds provide both detention and treatment functions and contain some water during most parts of the year.
(b) Be surrounded by a trail or be located adjacent to another active open space, Locating children’s play structures next to ponds is prohibited.
(c) The pond must be curvilinear in shape, not rectangular.
(d) Only 30 percent of the pond may contain berming.
(e) Materials: no ecoblock shall be used in the construction of the pond. Baffles shall be made of aesthetically pleasing material.
(f) The slope of the pond shall be 3:1 or flatter and landscaped per requirement (a) above.
(g) The pond access shall be made of geogrid or other aesthetically pleasing materials. Gravel and asphalt shall not be used.
(h) No fencing shall be provided around the pond.

19.31.XXX Design – Passive Open Space. Passive open space is “non-active” open space which preserves natural areas and provides scenic amenities to a PRD. Passive open space shall meet the following minimum requirements:
(1) Passive open space may be no more than 50 percent of the total required open space in PRDs.
(2) Preserved natural areas, such as wetlands, streams, and woodlands may count as passive open space.
(3) Passive open space may include open fields and landscaped areas which are held in common by the homeowners association.
(4) All passive open spaces which count toward the minimum 10 percent open space in a PRD must be at least 5,000 square feet in area, with minimum dimensions of 50 feet wide by 90 feet deep.
(5) All passive landscape areas shall be accessible and visible to the residents of the PRD.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Draft Code: Pedestrain Connections and Subdivision Layout

During last month's Planning Commission meeting one of the main areas of discussion was improving pedestrian connectivity within subdivisions; essentially by changing the focus of subdivision layout from an automobile oriented street network, to a block and street pattern that is focused on pedestrian movement.

The following draft Code is the result of the work to integrate the comments and concepts discussed during the meeting and includes:

  • requirements for pedestrian walkways which provide more direct access throughout neighborhoods;
  • reduced block lengths to reduce walking distances;
  • design standards for pedestrian walkway safety; and,
  • landscape and fencing standards for walkway aesthetics.

Because these issues are also closely related to lot configurations and street patterns, the draft Code has also integrated appropriate standards for their design characteristics, for example restricting the use of cul-de-sacs.

The Planning Commission will be reviewing the draft Code language below during the regularly scheduled May meeting on the 26th.

Chapter 21.40
Sections: General Statement Relationship to adjoining street system and development Relationship to street system extensions Street layout - grid. Intersection Spacing Dead-end Streets Blocks - Lot Configuration Blocks - Size Pedestrian Connections Pedestrian Connections - required improvements Pedestrian Connections - alley access Pedestrian Connections - design Pedestrian Connections - design - safety Pedestrian Connections - Maintenance Lots—Dimensions. Access requirements Property Corners at intersections Industrial and commercial blocks and lots - general statement Industrial and commercial blocks and lots - Lot orientation Industrial and commercial blocks and lots - Lot arrangement Industrial and commercial blocks and lots - Property corners at intersections General Statement
The following design criteria address the street, block and lot layout of subdivisions and are intended to provide an attractive and safe network for both pedestrians and vehicles within Oak Harbor. The criteria promote walkable neighborhoods which contribute to the efficient and comfortable movement of pedestrians within Oak Harbor. Relationship to adjoining street system and development
(1) Linkages, including streets, sidewalks, pedestrian or bike paths, shall be provided within and between neighborhoods when they can create a continuous and interconnected network of roads and pathways;
(2) Ensure continuity of adjoining streets and arterials by extending connections to the boundary of the development.
(3) The location of all principal, collector and minor arterials must conform to the Transportation Element of the Oak Harbor Comprehensive Plan;
(4) All streets dedicated shall be full-width except along the boundary lines of the plat. Half-width streets may be permitted along the boundaries of a development upon approval of a final plat. Relationship to street system extensions
(1) At a minimum, stub streets with sidewalks shall be required within subdivisions to allow for future connectivity;
(2) Such accesses shall be extended to each of the boundaries of the project, unless an exceptional circumstance of topography, critical areas or existing development prohibits such a connection. Provided, however, that if an adjacent property has a reasonable likelihood of redeveloping in the future, the Director may require a street stub.
(3) Implementation of this requirement shall comply with the Comprehensive Plan Transportation Element. Street layout - grid.
(1) The street pattern utilized for subdivisions shall be predominantly a grid or modified grid pattern with intersections designed at right angles or T intersections.
(2) Exceptions:
(a) The grid pattern may be adjusted to a “modified grid” by reducing the number of linkages or the alignment between roads, where the following factors are present on site:
(i.) Infeasible due to topographical constraints or presence of critical areas designated in the Comprehensive Plan; and/or
(ii) Substantial improvements exist on adjacent properties which inhibit a connection.
(b) Alley Access: Alley access is an acceptable street pattern.
(3) Alleys shall be a minimum of 20 feet wide. Alleys may be required in residential areas and to service all properties fronting on arterials. Intersection Spacing
(1) Intersection spacing of less than one hundred twenty five feet (125') is not allowed. Dead-end Streets
Dead-end streets may only be permitted by the Director where due to demonstrable physical constraints no future connection to a larger street pattern is physically possible.
(1) Dead-end streets shall only be allowed where:
(a) An exceptional circumstance such as steep topography, a critical area identified in the Comprehensive Plan, or existing development which prohibits a connection;
(b) The street length for the dead-end as measured from the intersection to the terminus is no longer than 400 feet;
(c) The design of the dead end turn-around has been approved by the City Engineer and the Fire Department. Oak Harbor encourages alternative dead-end designs which reduce stormwater impacts and use less space. For acceptable turn-around designs, please see the Design Brief; and,
(d) A pedestrian connection has been provided for connectivity or future connectivity as per OHMC; Provided, however, if a another pedestrian connection exists or is planned going to the same destination which offers a non-circuitous route for pedestrians, two pedestrian connections to the same destination shall not be required.
(e) A temporary dead-end may be approved when connections to adjacent properties cannot be extended at the time of development, but will be provided in the future and such turn-around is required for emergency vehicles. Blocks - Lot Configuration
(1) Blocks shall be deep enough to allow two (2) tiers of lots, except where:
(a) There is an abutting principal or minor arterial defined in the Transportation Element of the Comprehensive Plan;
(b) The location and extent of environmental constraints prevents a two-tiered lot arrangement including size and shape of the parcel and,
(c) Prior to approval of single-tier lot configuration based on exceptions
(i) and (ii), the proponent has demonstrated to the City that a different layout or provision of an alley system is not feasible. Blocks - Size
(1) Blocks shall be 600 to 800 feet in length;
(2) Blocks may be up to a maximum of 1000 feet in length provided:
(a) The applicant has exhibited, through written materials, drawings, and illustrations, submitted as part of the plat application, that an exceptional circumstance such as topography or a critical area identified in the Comprehensive Plan makes this impractical and,
(b) An alternative block pattern is proposed which achieves the goals and intent of this chapter; and,
(c) Mid-block pedestrian connections conforming to OHMC are provided for all blocks over 800 feet in length. Pedestrian Connections
Pedestrian connections shall be integrated in to the design of subdivisions to enhance the connectivity throughout the plat as per the following criteria:
(1) All pedestrian facilities required by this code must be publicly accessible either by easement or dedication provided:
(a) the City may choose not to accept dedication of pedestrian ways not identified in the Comprehensive Plan; and
(b) all dedicated pedestrian ways must be designed to City standards identified in OHMC 19.XX.XXX; and
(2) Be located mid-block, aligned with street ends, lane ways, other pedestrian walkways, mid-block connections destinations or trails to provide continuous connections. Pedestrian Connections - required improvements
The applicant shall install pedestrian walkways in any of the following circumstances:
(1) When a pedestrian connection, walkway, or trail is shown on the Comprehensive Plan;
(2) If the pedestrian connection is necessary to provide non-circuitous pedestrian access to a park, open space, or activity center or feature within or adjacent to the subdivision;
(3) Mid-block pedestrian connections for blocks that are over 800 feet long;
(4) Pedestrian connections shall be provided to all adjacent uses at no greater than 800-foot intervals. The location of these connections must be coordinated between property owners. Specific connections to adjacent uses may be waived if:
(a) The applicant has exhibited through written materials, drawings, and illustrations, submitted as part of the plat application, that this is impractical or unsafe due to:
(i) an exceptional circumstance such as topography, or the presence of critical area identified in the Comprehensive Plan; or
(ii) the characteristics of the adjacent use or potential use as determined by the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Designation
(b) an alternative connection to a higher-order street bordering the subdivision or PRD can provide a non-circuitous route to the adjacent use;
(c) an easement or dedication for future connection is provided as may be determined by the Director. Pedestrian Connections - alley access
(1) The city may require pedestrian connections in the form of alleys or easements for pedestrian access having a total width of 20 feet along rear or side lot lines. Pedestrian Connections - design
(1) Pedestrian connections shall be built to the following standards:
(a) constructed of either concrete or asphalt and be a minimum of 10 feet wide;
(b) hard-packed gravel may be used for walkway surface in areas adjacent to natural or protected features delineated in the Comprehensive Plan;
(c) be constructed within an easement 20 feet wide;
(d) a landscape strip of 5 feet shall be provided on either side with100 percent turf grass cover and deciduous trees planted at 30 foot intervals with no less than two trees on each side of the pedestrian way. Bark mulch and wood chips are not allowed in landscaped areas adjacent to the pedestrian connection;
(2) Fencing is required along the edge of all adjacent residential lots provided:
(a) it is limited to 6 feet in height;
(b) is no closer to the street than the front setback;
(c) is not constructed of chain link or plastic or vinyl strips.
(3) Lots are strongly encouraged to front on the pedestrian walkway to provide “eyes” on the walkway, and promote usability and safety of these facilities. The sides of lots may be located along pedestrian walkways, however, this is a less preferable option, since fencing is required to separate the pedestrian walkway from areas on private lots such as side and rear yards.
(4) Mid-block connections which cross more than one residential block and intersect streets, must meet pedestrian safety requirement before they will be approved. Pedestrian safety must include the following elements:
(a) Adequate site distance for vehicles to see pedestrians and stop, if necessary.
(b) Signage warning motorists that a pedestrian crossing is near. Signage must be provided to motorists approaching from both directions.
(c) At a minimum, painted striping must be provided to delineate the crosswalk. Applicants are encouraged to use crossing designs which include different materials, such as pavers or pavement patterns, or rumble strips to warn motorists of the crossing. Raised crosswalks may also be provided.
(d) Staggered bollards at all intersections of mid-block crossings and the public right-of-way.
If safety measures cannot be provided to ensure adequate pedestrian safety , the mid-block crossing may be required at a different location or not be required to extend across the adjacent street at a proposed location.
(5) Pedestrian connections which meet the design standards above, can be counted as passive open space in PRDs. Pedestrian Connections - design - safety
(1) Walkway safety shall be supported by ensuring that the alignment, landscaping and fencing shall be such that:
(a) users have clear vision from one end to the other; and,
(b) that plantings provide clear visibility from the ground up to 30” above grade;
(2) In natural areas with existing vegetation, sight lines for pedestrian safety may vary if either of the following is demonstrated by the applicant:
(a) the protection required of the natural area by other OHMC or other applicable regulations prohibits the walkway design to meet this requirement
(3) The entire length of the walkway must be reasonably well lit for its intended hours of use. Lighting must be directed downward on to the walkway and may not overflow onto adjacent residential lots.
(4) Bollard lighting is required at pedestrian connection entrances;
(5) Pedestrian-oriented signage directing users to the walkway and appropriate use is required at all entrances;
(6) The intersections of walkways with public right-of-way must have a minimum-ten (10) foot outside radius to promote clear vision into the walkway from passersby. As a substitute for this requirement, fencing along the walkway may terminate ten feet before the intersection with the public right-of-way. Pedestrian Connections - Maintenance
(1) Pedestrian connections and trails shall be maintained by an association of home owners.
(2) The following language shall be placed on the face of the plat relating to the maintenance of pedestrian connections: Lots—Dimensions.
(1) The size, shape, and orientation of lots shall meet the minimum area and width requirements of the applicable zoning classification and shall be appropriate for the type of development and use contemplated.
(2) Lots must be of a shape so that reasonable use and development may be made of the lot.
(3) Generally, the depth of the lot should not be more than three times the width of the lot.
(4) Every lot shall have a minimum width of 60 feet at the building line. All lots which do not have a width of 60 feet at the setback line as referenced under the applicable zoning ordinance shall indicate on the face of the final plat the location of said building line. Lot frontage shall be a minimum of 30 feet.
(5) Insofar as practical, side lot lines shall be at right angles to street lines or radial to curved street lines, and no more than 20 degrees from perpendicular to the front property line with which it intersects.
(6) Side and rear lot lines shall be straight, or composed of straight line elements. Access requirements
Each lot must have access to a public street or road. Alternatively, access may be by private access easement per the requirements of OHMC and XX.XX.XXX. Property Corners at intersections
All lot corners at intersections of dedicated public rights-of-way, except alleys, shall have a minimum radius of fifteen feet (15'). Industrial and commercial blocks and lots - general statement
The division of land for industrial and commercial purposes shall conform to the requirements and minimum standards of residential design except as provided in this Section. Industrial and commercial blocks and lots - Lot orientation
The size, shape and orientation of lots shall meet the minimum area and width requirements of the applicable zoning classification and shall be appropriate for the type of development and use contemplated. Industrial and commercial blocks and lots - Lot arrangement
Insofar as practical, side lot lines shall be at right angles to street lines or radial to curved street lines. Industrial and commercial blocks and lots - Property corners at intersections
All lot corners at intersections of dedicated public rights-of-way, except alleys, shall have minimum radius of twenty five feet (25 feet).

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dead Ends - Planning Commission Discussion

One of the most significant changes to the Subdivision Code that will be made is the restriction of dead end streets in new subdivisions, as was discussed by the Planning Commission at their last meeting.  

This impacts the efficiency of the street network, for both motorized and non-motorized transportation options. Of particular note is that with the kind of interconnected street system that removing dead ends fosters, the more options and convenience there is for pedestrians.  This is one of the most important and oft repeated goals of this project; and also why other communities have also eliminated the use of dead ends in new developments except for special circumstances.

Fences and Ped Connections - Planning Commission Discussion

The Planning Commission discussed the important relationship of fences along pedestrian connections, and the need for their design to be addressed with the new Code.  These fences impact security and privacy for both the public areas of the walkways and the private areas of the neighboring residential yards.

If fences are too low they can have little effect in defining the private space; however, if they are too tall the walkway can become too confined to be comfortable for users (this also relates to the overall width of the walkway). 

Fence materials also impact the way that they "fit" in aesthetically with the neighborhood.  The new Code will restrict the use of chain link fencing, or plastic/vinyl slatted fencing for this reason.  

As with other common amenities within PRD's the Code will likely require that the Home Owner's Association maintain these facilities.  This is another reason why the Code is being written so that the landscaping of these pedestrian walkways can be easily maintained. 

Open Space Min Size - Planning Commission Discussion

One of the issues that has resulted from the development of PRDs (Planned Residential Developments) over recent years is the difficultly in defining what is acceptable open space for calculation toward the 10% required of the Code.  

There are no clearly defined terms by which to measure these spaces; therefore, some applications come forward with open space calculations that are comprised of areas that are better described as "left over" space, as opposed to spaces integrated into the overall design of the subdivision.  The most extreme of these are spaces that are excessively narrow, or hidden behind residential units so that few can see or have access to them.  

For the development of the new Code, minimum size standards will be defined for these PRD open spaces. The Planning Commission discussed the possibility of a 50 X 90 foot minimum.  One of the associated issues is how open space credit will be given to pedestrian trails (even if they don't meet the minimum size requirement).  This will likely be addressed by clear definitions of the different kinds of open spaces: pedestrian trails, active open spaces, passive open spaces, etcetera. 

Mid-block Connections - Planning Commission Discussion

One of the design solutions that has been "discovered" through the review of model codes is the use of mid-block pedestrian connections to improve walkability within a neighborhood. This is especially important where large development blocks are allowed; as these significantly increase walking distances even to locations only one street away.  

To make sure that these pedestrian connections are most effective there location will be structured by a few rules, for example:
  • aligning pedestrian connections from one block to another;
  • aligning pedestrian connections with T-intersections;
  • providing pedestrian connections at dead ends; and,
  • providing multiple pedestrian connections to important community amenities such as parks and open space. 
The safety of these connections (particularly where they meet the sidewalk/roadway) will be addressed by their design features, for example:
  • site distance;
  • signage; and,
  • rumble strips.

Block Length - Planning Commission Discussion

One of the main issues that was discussed with the Planning Commission was developing standards for block length in new subdivisions.  This directly relates to the goals associated with pedestrian connectivity, aesthetics, and environmental impacts.  

The initial discussion was focusing on a maximum block length of 800 feet (many other communities have block length restrictions, with some as short as 400 to 500 feet). 

One of the proposed new Code provisions was requiring mid-block pedestrian connections for blocks over 800 feet. However, this could inadvertently result in many block much larger than 800 ft. just by using a mid-block pedestrian connection.  This would go against the intent of the regulation.  Therefore, a different approach will be developed to define new Code language which restricts block length to a maximum 800 feet with some specific exceptions and mitigation methods defined.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Draft Code: Street Sections

The new Code language shown below deals with street sections. This Code is intended to provide clear direction on street design while also allowing for a new level of controlled flexibility with an administrative variance process.

Currently Chapter 21.40 Design Standards (sections 21.40.010 through to 21.40.075) is almost exactly the same as the language in Chapter 11.17 Street Design Standards. This entire Chapter will be reworked to eliminate this redundancy. As part of that, the following Code language will be used to direct street design.

XXX.XX.XX1 Required Street Improvements. All land divisions with more than nine (9) residential units or 18 multifamily units accessing the same street must provide public streets that meet the configurations described in Table XXXX: Required Street Improvements

Table XXXX. Required Street Improvements (to be added in OHMC)

XXXXX2. The City has a two-tiered process for reviewing alternative residential street designs which do not meet the requirements in Table XXX. In the first tier, applicants for residential subdivisions and PRDs may request to vary from the required configuration of the essential elements within a street section. These types of alterations are reviewed administratively through an “adjustment” process. In the second tier, applicants may propose unique street designs which do not contain one or more of the essential elements under a Type IV waiver process reviewed by Planning Commission.

XXX.XX.X3 Adjustment Application for Alternative Street Designs.
(1) The Director may at the request of an applicant, allow adjustments under a Type II Review process to the street sections specified in Table XXXX “Required Street Improvements standards” in residential subdivisions and PRDs. If an adjustment is requested, it must meet all of the following criteria:
(a) All of the “essential elements” continue to be provided in the street design. Essential elements are defined as:
(1) Pedestrian facilities must be provided on both sides of the street. Pedestrian facilities must be a minimum of five (5) feet in width, but need to be either concrete or hard packed gravel. However, hard packed gravel surfaces may only be provided adjacent to open spaces, and shall not be provided adjacent to residential lots.
(2) Adequate guest parking is provided. In place of on-street parallel parking lanes, applicants for residential subdivisions and PRDs may provide alternative parking designs, including head-in or diagonal parking, parking courts in cul-de-sacs, or parking in side alleys. A minimum of one (1) guest parking space per three (3) residential units must be provided, whether or not parking is provided in parallel spots, an alternative design or a combination. Guest parking spaces must meet the parking space size and access requirements specified in OHMC section 19.44.110. The guest parking spaces must be within 500 feet of 80 percent of the units within the subdivision or PRD.
(3) A landscaping element which has a continuous dimension of ten (10) feet in width. The landscape element may be one or more landscape strips located within the street section. Low impact development (LID) bio-retention and stormwater treatment facilities may be interpreted as a landscape elements.
(4) Two, minimum ten (10) foot wide travel lanes.

(3)Waiver for Alternative Street Designs. Applicants for residential subdivisions may also propose alternative street designs which do not contain the essential elements listed in OHMC section XXXX. The waiver will be reviewed under a Type IV review as specified in OHMC 18.20.260. process by the Planning Commission.

(4) Application Materials for Alternative Street Sections. Requests to for alternative street designs, either under the Adjustment or Waiver processes, must be received from the applicant at the time of preliminary plat or preliminary PRD development plan submittal and must contain at least the following:
(a) section drawings prepared by an Engineer certified in the State of Washington that clearly illustrate the proposed street improvements.
(b) written rationale for requesting to vary the Required Street Improvements which describes:
(i) how the proposed street section will provide an equal or better street design for vehicles and pedestrians.
(ii) the proposed design will not compromise vehicle or pedestrian safety,
(iii) public utilities, such as storm, sewer and water can continue to be provided,
(iv) all comprehensive plan designated vehicular and pedestrian connections will continue to be provided and,
(v) all pedestrian facilities will continue to meet ADA standards.
(c) if an applicant is applying for a Waiver to vary from the required street elements, all of the following additional criteria must be met:
(i) there are unique site conditions which necessitate alternative street designs not common on other residential sites or
(ii) essential elements which have been eliminated from the street design are unnecessary either from a functional (pedestrian or automobile movement) or safety standpoint and,
(iii) the applicant proposes to offset the loss of the essential element by replacing it with another element (i.e. bike lanes in place of landscaping) within the street section or the development proposal contains unique, high-quality components which achieve a higher level of design than would otherwise be provided, such as additional open space, unique architecture, or other site amenities and,
(iv) essential elements are not being eliminated for applicant convenience.

Draft Code: Easement Access for Plats

The following proposed Code language will allow lots to be developed without frontage on streets. This change to the current requirements is intended to allow for more flexibility within short plats, and areas where providing street frontage is particularly difficult.

This new Code language will be part of Chapter 21.50 Improvement Standards. The concept of access easements was initially brought up as part of the Short Plat discussion. This Code language is proposed so that the benefits can be extended to all plats as applicable, not just short plats.

Short plat Section 21.60.070 Design Standards and Required Improvements may need to be revised accordingly.

XXX.XX.XX1 Alternative Access Exception. The City may, at the request of the applicant and as permitted by the Oak Harbor zoning code, allow access to residential lots created through land division by alternative means, in the form of shared drives and private streets when in the opinion of the Development Services Director and City Engineer:
(a) The improvement of a public street is not necessary to accommodate public utilities.
(b) the improvement of a public street is not necessary to provide safe and efficient traffic flow.
(c) The improvement of a public street is not necessary to provide access to future developable area;
(d) The improvement of a public street is not necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the residents and general public and,
(e) A site contains natural constraints, such as topography or environmentally sensitive areas, and the provision of an easement would reduce impacts to those areas

XXX.XX.XX2 Shared Drives. Shared drives may be created which access a limited number of units as follows:
(a) four (4) single-family lots or,
(b) eight (8) multifamily units.

XXX.XX.XX3 Private Streets. Private streets may be created which access a limited number of units as follows:
(a) Nine (9) single-family lots or,
(b) 18 multifamily units

XXX.XX.XX4 Design Standards. Shared drives and private streets shall be constructed to City standards as required. The City Engineer may require a turnaround to City standards on any easement access drive. The following standards outline the required elements and dimensions of shared access drives and private streets:

Table X. Required Elements and Dimensions for Private Streets (to be added to OHMC)

XXX.XX.XX5 Development Standards for Easement Access Lots. All lots or residential units that abut or are adjacent to an easement access drive are required to take access off the easement, unless it is determined by the Development Services Director or City Engineer that:
(a) it is impractical or impossible due to:
(i) existing site conditions;
(ii) existing structures; and, or
(iii) topography or environmental constraints of the site.

XXX.XX.XX6 Services. A maximum of two lots can be served by private utility side services within an easement, unless the City Engineer determines that a public utility main is necessary for adequate area service. Three or more lots served within an easement will require public utilities.

Draft Code: Stormwater Facility Design

The aesthetic impacts of stormwater facilities will be improved with the following Code amendments. Planning Commission will be reviewing these at their next meeting Tuesday April 28th.

This is entirely new Code language, and will be part of the Design Standards Chapter; how/where it will fit within the revised Chapter still needs to be determined.

XXX.XX.XX1 Stormwater Facility Location and Design. Stormwater facilities shall be located and designed with consideration to aesthetics, and to incorporate the facility as an amenity to the land division with features such as landscaping and natural building materials. The provisions in this section apply to all subdivisions and Planned Residential Developments proposed within Oak Harbor. The following design requirements shall apply to the location and design of stormwater facilities.
(1) Locations. Where feasible, open spaces and tree retention tracts within subdivisions and Planned Residential Developments shall be located adjacent to stormwater facilities to create the visual effect of larger open space areas. .
(2) Materials. Structural materials utilized within stormwater facility design must have regard for natural aesthetic principles.
a) Gabion baskets, and gabion rock are not permitted in stormwater facility designs.
b) All structural elements of ponds shall utilize stone or other natural material that have decorative finishes. Use of concrete in stormwater facilities is prohibited unless the concrete has a decorative finish and is combined with screen plantings to reduce the visual impact of these facilities. The use of ecology block in pond construction is prohibited.
(3) Design. To limit the need for safety fencing resulting from steep slopes, stormwater facilities shall be designed with shallow internal slopes (recommend 3:1 or flatter) whenever feasible. If it is demonstrated that safety fencing is required it must:
(a) be decorative or ornamental in nature. Chain-link fencing with slats is not permitted, although vinyl clad chain-link fencing is acceptable if screened by plantings and,
(b) for safety reasons, not completely limit visibility to the pond. Ponds shall be designed such that safety fencing is not required on more than two sides of the pond or 50% of the circumference, whichever is less.

XXX.XX.XX2 Stormwater Facility Landscaping. Landscaping shall be required for all stormwater facilities within land divisions. The purpose of the landscaping is to improve visual quality and provide screening of the stormwater facilities from streets, public areas, and neighboring properties. The following standards shall apply to the landscaping for stormwater facilities.
(1) Landscape Design. A landscape plan that meets the standards of this section shall be designed by a Landscape Architect certified in the State of Washington and submitted as part of the preliminary plat or the preliminary PRD development plan application.
(2) Landscape Perimeter. A perimeter landscape area, of minimum 10 feet wide, is required adjacent to all stormwater ponds. This area shall be delineated on the face of the plat and associated landscape plan. The perimeter landscape area shall include:
(a) evergreen ground cover, shrubs and bushes, to provide 100% ground cover of the perimeter area within two (2) years; native species and low-maintenance varieties are preferred. If a trail or pedestrian path is included around the stormwater facility, the area outside the trail or pedestrian path, but within the 10-foot landscape area must have 100% groundcover within two (2) years.
(b) a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees to provide visual interest, with a planting density of at least one tree for every 250 square feet of Landscape Perimeter.
(c) natural vegetation may be used to fulfill the landscaping requirements. However, all trees which pose a safety hazard and are subject to wind throw and blow down, must be removed.
(3) The perimeter landscape area may include a trail or pedestrian path for recreational purposes, provided that the side slopes of the pond are not steeper than 3:1.
(4) In the event that a trail, open space, or park has been identified and/or required by the City of Oak Harbor adjacent to, or integrated with a storm water facility, it shall be installed above the maximum extended detention level or five year storm level, which ever is greater, in order to prevent frequent flooding.
(5) Plantings must be designed and constructed not to conflict with the function of the stormwater facility as defined in the DOE Stormwater Manual.
(6) If a pond with two or more cells for treatment is proposed, one or more of the cells must be planted.
(7) No more than 50% of the pond circumference may have berming.

Draft Code: Street Trees

The following is the draft Code being proposed for including Street Trees in Oak Harbor's new developments. This language will result in a significant change the way neighborhoods look and evolve. The addition of street trees will impact the way neighborhoods look and feel, and help with a variety of environmental impacts such as improving air quality and reducing stormwater impacts.

This new Code language will be part of the Design Standards Chapter; how/where it will fit within the revised Chapter still needs to be determined.

XXX.XX.XX1 Street Trees Required. Street trees shall be required along both sides of “Principal Arterials”, “Minor Arterials, 2-lane”, “Collectors with Bike Lanes”, and all “Local Residential” streets designated with the Transportation Element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. The purpose of the street trees is to improve the visual quality of the street, improve the pedestrian environment, and provide the environmental benefits of improved air quality, reduced stormwater impacts, and reduced heat-island effects associated with large paved areas.

XXX.XX.XX2 Street Trees Design. The following standards shall apply to the installation of street trees.
(1) Street trees of a species specified in table XX , shall be planted in the designated landscape strip within the public right-of-way, 30 feet on center along frontage for all divisions of land; on both sides of any public street;
(2) At the time of planting, all street trees shall be a species listed in Table XX “City of Oak harbor Acceptable Street Tree Species” or as otherwise approved by the Director.
(3) Species. The following table identifies tree species acceptable to the City of Oak Harbor.

Table XX. City of Oak Harbor Acceptable Street Tree Species (to be inserted in the OHMC)

XXX.XX.XX3 Street Tree Protection. To protect their function, define management responsibilities, and protect the health of the street trees, the following language shall be placed on face of the plat:
Street trees planted in the designated landscape strip along the frontage of all lots, as per the approved landscape plan associated with the residential plat of ___________, shall be maintained by the property owners of lots directly adjacent to the location of the street trees. The replacement of street trees for those that have died is the responsibility of the adjacent property owners. The location and tree species for replacement street trees must be in conformance with species allowed in Table XX. Or as approved by the Director and shall not obstruct the travel lane or parking stalls at full maturity.
If property owners do not maintain street trees, the City of Oak Harbor may choose to maintain these trees and invoice the adjacent property owner for the work.

Draft Code: Buffer Corridor Standards

The first sections of new Code language will be reviewed by the Planning Commission at their upcoming meeting next week.

There are a variety of issues that will be covered, therefore each section of Code is being posted as a separate blog entry. This first one deals with language relating to buffer corridor standards.

This new Code language will be part of the Design Standards Chapter; how/where it will fit within the revised Chapter still needs to be determined. The existing language referring to the buffers (21.40.040) will be removed.

XXX.XX.XX1 Landscape Buffer Required. A landscaped buffer shall be required along all minor arterial roads for a width of at least 25 feet abutting all standard residential subdivisions and PRDs. The purpose of the landscape buffer is to minimize the impact of the roads on adjacent residential uses; encourage tree preservation and planting; and to create visually attractive corridors along these roadways. The Landscape Buffer shall be established as a separate tract on the face of the plat. The provisions in this section apply to all residential subdivisions and Planned Residential Developments (PRDs), excluding Short Subdivisions.

XXX.XX.XX2 Landscape Buffer Design.
The landscape buffer may incorporate either natural vegetation, applicant proposed vegetation or a combination of both. The purpose of the following requirements is to provide a “complete” buffer which contains overstory, understory and groundcover vegetation.
(1) The Landscape Buffer shall include the following landscaping:
a) trees planted 30 ft on center along the entire length of the edge closest to the arterial road, and no closer than 10 ft from this edge of the buffer to avoid conflicts with the required utility easement.
(b) shrubs and bushes, to provide 100% ground cover of the buffer area within 2 years; drought-tolerant, low-maintenance varieties are strongly preferred.
(c) sufficient shrubs and bushes to provide a continuous four-foot high visual screen of the arterial road from within the land division. The plantings must not restrict site distance at intersections.
(d) in addition to the street trees identified in (a), throughout the entire buffer area a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees, of a species determined suitable by the City of Oak Harbor, shall be provided at planting density of at least one trees for every 400 square feet of the buffer area.
(e) all required plantings in the buffer shall avoid conflicts with public utilities and the species shall be selected to avoid root damage to sidewalks, streets and curbing.

(2) Those areas of the landscape buffer where suitable natural vegetation of understory and ground cover and healthy stands of trees not prone to wind throw or blow down after adjacent areas have been cleared, may be retained as substitute for the required landscaping in (1) provided:
(a) street trees are planted as per (1)(a);
(b) evergreen ground cover is present as per (1)(b);
(c) screening is present as per (1)(c); and,
(d) the minimum number of trees are present as per (1)(d).
(e) trees which pose a safety hazard from wind throw or blow down must be removed.

XXX.XX.XX3 Landscape Buffer Protection. To protect their function, define management responsibilities, and protect the health of the landscape buffers, the following language shall be placed on face of the plat:
(1) Tracts ______, are set aside as landscape buffers. No vehicular access to the adjacent roadway is permitted to protect, vegetation and planting areas for their environmental and aesthetic value to the community, and.
(2)Maintenance of Tracts ________ shall be the responsibility of the home owners association and not the City of Oak Harbor. If the association disbands, maintenance responsibility for Tracts ________ defaults to the individual lot owners within the boundaries of the originally approved residential subdivision or planned residential development. If the landscape buffer is not maintained, the City of Oak Harbor may choose to impose a fee structure or invoice the property owners within the boundaries of the originally approved residential plat to maintain landscape buffers.
(3)All vegetation shall be maintained to preserve the health of the buffer plantings, and to maintain the landscaping in a manner that conforms to the original landscape and maintenance plans associated with the residential plat approval, including replacement of dead or diseased plantings.
(4) Trees deemed to be a hazard by a professional arborist certified in the State of Washington may be removed, subject to approval by the City of Oak Harbor. Removed trees must be replaced. The City reserves the right to exempt the requirement for an Arborist assessment if in the City’s opinion the tree is obviously a hazard, diseased, or dead.
(5) No dumping of vegetation or debris is allowed in Tracts _______.
(6)No structures are allowed in Tracts ________.