Planning Commission Briefs Council on Draft Environmental Protection Standards

Planning Commission chair Jessica Louisos gave the City Council an update on a series of amendments they are working on to the Environmental Protection Standards contained with the City’s Land Development Regulations. (View the video from the meeting.)

Ms. Louisos shared a series of maps outlining the current regulations, and the Commission’s work to date updating the standards.

The Commission is currently reviewing a series of draft amendments and anticipates distributing a draft for community input early in the new year. The proposed regulations would split natural resources into three categories: hazards, level I resources, and level II resources.

Hazards would include many natural resources already restricted from development, including Class I and II wetlands and their buffers, the 100-year floodplain, stream buffers, and river corridor standards. The Commission is proposing to add very steep slope areas, rare, threatened and endangered species, and unbuilt portions of 0.2% floodplain to this category.

Level I resources would include a series of newly-established habitat blocks and habitat connectors between these habitat areas. These areas were developed based on the 2020 Habitat Block Assessment and Ranking completed by Arrowwood Environmental. Development would largely be prohibited in these areas, with some allowances for adjustments to boundaries in certain circumstances.

Level II resources would include resources that are typically smaller in size and which could be incorporated into a building lot and still protected, or land features that can accommodate building with care. These are proposed to include Class III wetlands and buffers, intermittent streams, moderately steep slopes, and developed portions of the 0.2% floodplain.

Ms. Louisos emphasized that while this evening’s presentation was focused on the City’s environmental protection standards, the Planning Commission is also working on a parallel track to update standards for subdivisions and planned unit developments to better support compact neighborhood development. The Commission sees these two projects working hand-in-hand, she said.

The Commission’s regular meetings are the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month. Community members and invited and welcome to participate in all meetings.