Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Street Section Variance Process

The existing code has a two tiered approach for review of proposed street widths within plats:

1) Design streets to meet adopted standards (curb, gutter, 5-foot sidewalks on two sides, and a 36 - 44-foot pavement section contained within a 50-60 foot right-of-way); 

2) Propose street sections which do not meet the standard, and go through a “waiver” process with Planning Commission review, or be granted flexibility through the PRD process (also reviewed by Planning Commission).

This second tier is costly in terms of time and staff resources for application review, even with minor variations being applied for.  

Most of the requests to deviate from standards that have been processed recently (past 5 years at least) are for narrower street sections.  This suggests that Oak Harbor’s standard street sections are out dated.

Staff are proposing a new three-tiered process meant to reward creativity in “good” street design and reduce staff, applicant and Planning Commission time spent reviewing alternative street sections in standard plat applications:

1) Standard designs. Offer two options for standard street designs. 

2) Administrative variance. An administrative deviation from prescribed street section dimensions only; if an applicant demonstrates that they cannot provide one of the standard two street sections for unusual site or design reasons.

3) PC Review. If an applicant demonstrates they cannot provide one of the essential elements in the street section (sidewalks, landscape strips, curbs, or 10-foot travel lanes), then they can request Planning Commission review an alternate street design as part of the overall plat review (similar to PRD).

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