Planning Conundrum

Because I can’t say no, and because I generally believe in giving back to the community, I agreed to be on the Subdivision Ordinance Review Committee for Marshall County. (Currently I’m on the Plymouth Comp Plan Committee, (2x) and the Culver Comp Plan Committee (3x)) Marshall County Plan Director, Ty Adley, wisely recognized that the proposed new sewer districts working their way through the County could result in an increase in requests for new subdivisions. Apparently, for the first time in many years, a subdivision application was made last year, alerting him to issues with the old ordinance.

There’s lots to change and I think we can make major improvements. Apparently there have been some updates, but never a rewrite. There are issues where it ventures into Zoning requirements and thus creates some conflicts.

Sketch 1

One of the larger discussions at the last meeting was how to balance fairness and good planning when it came to subdivisions that could reasonable be expected to be gateways into additional property. So in Sketch 1 to the right, there are properties A, B, C & D all under separate ownership. Properties A, B & C are of sufficient size to support 15 lots while parcel D could reasonable support 90 lots. The owner of parcel B comes to the county and proposes a 15 lot subdivision. They would be required to access the highway from one point. They would, at a minimum, be required to stub their road to their property line (2) with parcel D, to allow access to that property. If the county determined that they wanted to limit access points to the highway, they would require road stubs connection parcels A & B as well. (road stubs 1 & 3 on the diagram.) This is good planning. Good planning would also suggest that the road connection to the highway be sized to accommodate the potential growth. This might include Accel/Decel lanes, turn lanes and a traffic blister or island. It might include heavier duty pavement specifications due to the anticipated traffic from trash collection trucks, moving vans and the anticipated traffic from the adjacent developments. While the county doesn’t currently have But there’s the rub…

If the county requires the owner of Parcel B to include all of those things because of the potential development on parcel’s A, C & D there are a few possible results:

  • The cost per lot of all these improvements will be born by the first 15 lots, in lieu of being spread out over the anticipated 135 lots. This could potentially kill the 15 lot project.
  • All of the improvements could be made per county requirements and no development ever happens on parcels A, C & D. Assuming the streets are dedicated to the county, the county is then maintaining infrastructure that isn’t needed.
  • Standards change, so if the adjacent parcels do not develop quickly, then there may still be additional work needed, disturbing the current property owners.
  • The development plan may change. Generally a temporary cul-de-sac is a reduced version designed to fit within the road right-of-way without a bulge. What happens if it becomes a permanent cul-de-sac because the adjacent property is developed without using that access point?

We didn’t really settle on any solutions, but I will follow up on this post with some potential ideas as I work through them. I think there’s a way to make at least some of this reasonably fair to the initial developer, though it will be hard to make it totally equitable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copyright 2011 - Easterday Construction Company, Inc. - All rights reserved.