Updates given on zoning code
by Erin Dentmon
February 02, 2013 12:00 AM | 1854 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — After about two years of review, Zoning Director Ken Patton presented updates for Canton’s Unified Development Code to the Canton City Council at a work session Thursday.

Patton has been working with the city’s planning commission and a citizen advisory board to update the code.

The updated code is still in the draft stage.

With the proposed updates, the code would consolidate the city’s development standards.

Parking regulations would also change under the proposed code.

Patton recommended that the council approve a change setting a maximum number of parking spots allowed for businesses.

“A lot of cities are going to this maximum limit,” he said.

The new code would also encourage developments to explore shared parking opportunities.

“That can really help the city when it comes to grant opportunities and those things,” Patton said.

Signage issues are also included in the proposed updates to the code. Areas where freestanding signs are now limited to 32 or 50 feet could see signs up to 64 feet in areas if the code updates are approved.

In addition to size, the code updates could regulate the number of signs placed on a private property in the city.

Regulations for LED and LCD lighting on signs are addressed in the updated code; they are not mentioned in the current code.

Patton said the new code would allow portions of signs to use LED or LCD lighting.

“There was a lot of opposition to allowing full signage that was LED or LCD backlit,” Patton said.

Some signs with LED or LCD lighting have been approved through variances, Patton said.

Council Member John Beresford said the city needs to address people holding signs for businesses along roadways because of safety issues.

“It’s a new way to advertise, but it sure is a dangerous one,” he said.

Patton said sign holders at various businesses in the city have been instructed to stay behind the right-of-way.

Beresford also voiced concerns about having the personnel to handle issues addressed in the proposed updates.

The council and Patton discussed a code amendment changing the amount of setback needed for accessory buildings on residential lots.

Under the present code, accessory buildings must meet the same setback requirements as the main building on a property. The proposed update would change the required setbacks to 10 feet for any accessory building.

Code updates could also allow for accessory dwellings in residential areas, such as mother-in-law suites or apartments.

“That could allow a space for children who can’t find a job. Imagine a senior citizen who needs a little extra income. They could rent out one of these accessory dwellings,” Patton said.

The updated code would create a mobile home park district for manufactured housing. The Georgia Supreme Court has recently ruled that cities have the authority to allow manufactured homes only in certain zoning districts.

The code would make some changes to the city’s requirements for planned development districts, including a minimum site area of five acres.

For the most part, Patton said, the proposed updates would put the city’s zoning code more in line with Cherokee County’s.

“We do have an office/residential transition district the county doesn’t have, and we’re handling planned developments a little differently,” he said.

Patton said he is hopeful the updates can be completed and put to a council vote by the end of the year.

The code updates include a proposed historic district and special provisions for historic properties. The council will hold an additional work session to hear the proposals for historic properties.

Because the work is so detailed, Patton said he expects to have several more meetings with the council to present the proposed changes.

Beresford said the city’s current code is outdated and in need of the update. His biggest concern is how long the process is taking.

New provisions that could allow the city to deal with abandoned buildings are an important part of the update, Beresford said.

“We have some abandoned buildings and gas stations that need to be cleaned up. We’re trying to make this an environmentally friendly city, and a welcoming place,” he said.

Council Member Bob Rush said he was left with some additional questions after the presentation but had contacted Patton for clarifications.

“I think it merits everyone on council to read (the updated draft) and go through it. Even though it’s rather tedious, there’s a lot of stuff in it,” he said.

Rush added that some of the city’s other documents, such as the administrative code, could also use an update.

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