The Planning and Zoning Board voted at its Feb. 19 meeting to approve three updates to its regulations, supporting the recommendations of its Regulations Subcommittee, and to table a fourth.
Only one person attended the public hearings and she did not have any comments on the changes. The board unanimously approved a revision that deleted all language in Section 3.9.6.1 Modification of Requirements defining lawful non-conforming uses on lots because the regulation was deemed not to be valid.
The section number has been reserved for future use. Board member John Grant, who chairs the Regulations Subcommittee, said the board has no authorization to approve the provisions of this regulation. City Planner David B. Sulkis said the original intent of this regulation is not clear, but he said he believed it was intended to allow some uses on a lot with an existing non-conformity.
He said to his knowledge no one has come to the P&Z office to use the provisions of this regulation.
“It is not a very well written regulation,” said Sulkis.
The board also voted unanimously to revise the regulations for Section 4.1.1.7 regulating “Structures or Accessory Buildings in Residential Districts.”
The intent is to align this section with another section of the regulations that applies to poultry in residential areas. The regulation had read, “No structure or accessory building shall be constructed to house animals unless such buildings are located at least 100 feet from any street and 50 feet from any lot line.”
The regulation update adds this concluding phrase “except the keeping of poultry in accordance with Section 3.1.3.4.”
The board tabled a proposed third change, which would modify the text for “Article 5, Figure 4: Minimum Off-Street Parking Requirements” to correct the text to its original intent and wording. The update would change “outdoor luncheonette” in one section of the regulations to simply “luncheonette.” The revision would change the space definition from “1 space for each 75 sq. ft. of gross floor area, including service areas if any” to “1 space for each 75 sq. ft. of gross floor area, including outdoor serving areas if any.”
In announcing the decision to table, Grant said the subcommittee needed some time to review suggestions raised.
Finally, the board had an extended discussion regarding changes in the spacing of drive-thru windows in some commercial districts before voting 9-1 to approve a modified version of the regulation change.
Board member Robert Satti voted against the proposed change.
Grant said the intent was to make the downtown and Devon areas more pedestrian-friendly by limiting the number of drive-thrus and related curb cuts. The board added “Section 5.1.4.2 Prohibited Drive-Thru Windows, Curb Cuts, and Driveways MCDD and CDD-2 Zones” for the purpose of minimizing the number of curb cuts and driveways which cross busy sidewalks in the Milford Center Design District and the Corridor Design Development District-2 along Route 1 in Devon. This new regulation does not permit vehicular drive-thru windows within 500 linear feet of another existing drive-thru window as measured from property line to property line.
Drive-thrus and curb cuts cannot be created on properties where the driveway or curb cut “directly abuts a municipal parking area or easements to other properties that allow for access to the property in question.”
Discontinued or abandoned drive-thru uses allowed under Section 6.2.7.1 will not be permitted to reopen if they cannot meet the requirements of this new regulation. The proposal from the subcommittee had called for a minimum distance of 1,000 feet, but two other board members stated they felt this distance was too limiting for businesses.
Grant made a motion to change the distance from 1,000 to 800 feet. When that motion failed to receive a second, board member Scott Marlow made the motion to have the distance be 500 feet. Grant seconded that motion and the motion passed 9-1.
Regulation changes pending
As part of the review process, any proposed regulation changes are submitted to different agencies for comment, including the South Central Regional Council of Governments, the Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency, and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The Milford city attorney, the city of West Haven, and the towns of Orange and Stratford also review them.
The board recommended for circulation to the review process five additional regulation changes. Under Article 5, Section 5.18.13 Specific Standards 5.8.13.3 Manufactured Mobile Homes (VE Zones), the board is recommending two minor changes to correct section numbers and wording. The words “base flood elevation” would be replaced with the words “design flood elevation.
Under Article 7, Section 7.1.3. Site Plan Review, subsection 7.1.3.5 Landscaping and Screening, the revision would remove the phrase “notwithstanding the procedural provisions of Section 4.1.7 herein.’ This phrase would be removed because it does not apply.
Another revision would delete the wording for the entire section Article 10, Section 10.4 Pending District Changes, which allowed the zoning enforcement officer to withhold approval of a zoning permit for a building construction or substantial alteration likely to be affected by an amendment to the zoning map or changes. The board recommends deleting this section because the Connecticut General Statutes does not authorize the P&Z to enact such regulations.
The board would like to delete Article 7, Section 7.3 Special Exceptions, paragraph 4, which states that the board “may require that Special Exceptions” be periodically renewed” with the board to determine the time period. The change is because this regulation is not legal.
The board proposes adding Article 9, Section 9.2 Powers and Duties 9.2.1.1 to clarify its procedures. This section adds sentences detailing when an appeal of a board vote could take place. The regulation essentially states an appeal could take place after someone has notice of a board decision or such a decision is published in the newspaper.