Milton rejects moratorium on large parcel districtsStay on development could send wrong message, officials say
Milton — Vice Mayor John Booros wants developers to know Milton is open for business.
He was one of three council members who voted against a proposed moratorium on large parcel district applications.
“If a developer wants to come here, when the market is getting better, and build a neighborhood on the outskirts of town, why would we turn our backs on it?” he said.
The planning and zoning commission recommended a six- to nine-month moratorium on large parcel districts applications to give the group time to analyze and offer solutions to problems with the current regulations.
Large parcel districts are a zoning overlay for a community that allows for a variety of uses in one area. While primarily a residential neighborhood, the large parcel district zoning also allows for mixed-use buildings, churches, schools, meeting halls and more.
In Cannery Village, an large parcel district community, residents and emergency personnel have expressed concern about narrow alleyways behind homes. With parks in front of many homes, the alleyways are the only way to reach dwellings, but the narrow, 15-foot wide alleys are difficult for large trucks and fire department equipment to navigate. The parks and alleyways have also created problems with addresses; residents and some council members say the same issues may arise in Heritage Creek, also a large parcel district development, where the planning and zoning commission recently approved a section of homes with rear access via alleyways.
"I think we did it wrong the first time. That's why we have alleyways that people don't fit down, and that's why we have house numbers that are wrong," Booros said. "I think [LPDs] work in other places; we just weren't ready for them when we approved it the first go around. We better look closer before we approve another master plan."
Other communities in Milton, such as Wagamon's West Shores, were developed as subdivisions rather than large parcel districts, but subdivisions adhere to a set of rules and regulations set forth by a subdivision ordinance. The subdivision regulations differ significantly from large parcel district regulations, including a minimum alley width of 25 feet.
“Planning and zoning would like to take the opportunity to put a halt on any new [LPD] applications so that the process can be looked over and they can figure out what exactly can be done to avoid repeating issues,” said Town Solicitor Seth Thompson.
Council voted 3-2 to deny the commission's request for a moratorium. Councilman Mike Coté, who lives in Cannery Village and voted for the moratorium, said the town needs to do something about large parcel districts sooner rather than later.
“An LPD has created a number of difficult situations for a number of people who are here,” he said. “Somehow we need to fix the problems with the LPD so we don't have another situation like we have.”
Mayor Marion Jones voted against the moratorium, but she worries that a developer will come to town before the code is fixed. She expects large parcel districts to be a point of interest when the town begins its review of the comprehensive plan early next year.
“My concern is that we do have another applicant that comes before us and gets into this LPD cycle as well,” she said. “Then with five, 10 years buildout, we're going to be trying to chase that one too.”