Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

Commissioners relax development rules

New development rules allows private roads in subdivisions to have sharper curves provided they're wide enough for large firetrucks. New development rules allows private roads in subdivisions to have sharper curves provided they're wide enough for large firetrucks.

The Henderson County Board of Commissioners quickly adopted a series of land-use amendments today  that planners said would make it easier and less costly to develop land.

The amendments, which came after a review of the county Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code by county planners and the Planning Board, reduce parking requirements for apartment complexes and factories, cut in half the setback requirements for sheds and other outbuildings, eliminate public hearings and legal notices for comp plan amendments and relax the rules on how sharp curves can be in subdivisions.
"My reading of these proposed amendments is they're either neutral or they increase the ability of developers and landwoerns to use their property as they see fit and I think that's exactly what we need more of," said Commissioner Bill O'Connor.
Andrew Tate, the president and CEO of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, praised the update of the comp plan and land-use ordinance and said the reduced parking requirements for industry reflect the changing employment patterns.
"I think this is a great example of where the current land development code is not bad but can be better," he said.
No one spoke against the changes during a public hearing.
Here is a summary of the changes:
• Parking: Multifamily parking requirements would be reduced from two spaces to one and a half spaces per dwelling unit. Industrial parking would be reduced from one space for each 500 square feet to one space for each 4,000 square feet (the same as the existing requirement for warehouses). For a 100,000-square-foot factory, the change would reduce parking from 200 to 25 spaces.
• Accessory structure setbacks: Current rule requires a 10-foot setback from the property line for all districts. The planners recommend halving that to 5 feet. The lower number is a "common standard for many jurisdictions" and "provides better use of property," planners said. The rule would not override subdivision convenants or buffer requirements.
• Soil erosion plans: Currently the county requires a sketch plan and permit for disturbing more than 100 square feet of dirt. A formal erosion permit is required for development that moves dirt on one acre of flat land, a half-acre on a 15 percent slope, and a quarter-acre on a 25 percent slope. The county issues 25-40 permits a month for minor dirt moving and charges no fee. Planners recommended the Board of Commissioners eliminate those.
• Curve radius of new subdivision roads: The planners propose to significantly reduce the curve radii in exchange for a greater road width to accommodate emergency vehicles. Starr said planners used the longest fire truck in the county, a Hendersonville ladder truck, to calculate how wide the road needed to be if developers made curves less sharp than current law allows. The changes will reduce development costs by reducing the amount of cut and fill developers must make on steeper slopes to meet the stricter curve radii requirement. The idea came from a Planning Board member and engineer, Starr said. Developers would be allowed to reduce the curve radius from 90 feet to as little as 40 feet provided they widened the road enough to accommodate long vehicles. The road width would have to grow from 16 feet for a 90-foot radius to 24 feet for a 40-foot radius.
• Public notice and public hearings: The planners propose that the Board of Commissioners eliminate legal advertising and public hearing requirement for substantive amendments to the County Comprehensive Plan (CCP) amendments. Both the legal notice and public hearing would still be required for rezoning requests. The proposal requires the Planning Department to post a notice of the change on the county website, something Starr says the department does already. The change "provides greater flexibility to promote development where a CCP change is needed," Starr said.