The original proposal included references to formal open spaces, such as parks, in addition to informal open spaces, such as lawns, informal gardens and pathways. The formal open space requirement was dropped after the first meeting, because of concerns about who would maintain those spaces. Also, instead of the original requirement of 50 percent of perimeters being bounded by public right-of-way, now the proposal requires 25 percent.
The section of the comprehensive plan that supports the proposal says that the commission may "require either the provision of neighborhood parks and developments, which serves the needs of the new neighborhood, and which are maintained by the homeowner's association or a creative alternative, such as dedication to land or funding toward district parks," explained Development Services Director Robert Blanton.
The agricultural uses definitions should better define agricultural uses in zoned areas. The amendment includes expanded definitions of agribusiness, which is now defined as an enterprise that derives signficant revenue from the sale of its agricultural product; agritourism business, now defined as an enterprise at an agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness for entertainment or education, which generates income to the owner of the farm; and agritourism, now defined as the act of "visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness."
The basis from the comprehensive plan that supports this proposal comes from page 77, which says: "with the changes in the agricultural economy, there are many new opportunities available to rural residents that allow them to diversify in seeking ways to profit from the agricultural investment. One opportunity is to capitalize on tourism interest in the agricultural economy. The committe recommends that the commission and the fiscal court determine ways to best incorporate agrictourism and value-added agricultural opportunities into zoning regulations," Blanton explained.
The original proposal included the formation of an advisory committee, but that was dropped after the first meeting, where attendees expressed concern that this would create more red-tape.
This is the second hearing by this committee, headed by Commissioners Doug Christopher, Larry Disney and Bill Esarey. At the first meeting, which had a majority of developers in attendance, attendees expressed concern about the arbitrary measurements and figures in open space requirements.
Another big concern regarding open space requirements was that it could constitute illegally taking property from landowners without compensation, because they will not be able to develop that portion of the land.
At the commission's last regular meeting in August, Commissioner Clare Sipple said that the suggestion that the proposal would illegally take property was bogus.
"The landowners will be compensated," she said. If developers know that open space is part of their planning requirements, then those extra costs will be built into the plans for what they pay for the land and then sell it to buyers.
At that same meeting, Commissioner Steve Taylor said, "The bottom line is, the community would be much more attractive if there were formal open spaces."