Council to consider new overlay districts

Published 5:14 am Sunday, October 19, 2008

By Staff
Guidelines designedto help manage growtharound interchange areas
Contributing Editor
Washington’s City Council is expected to amend the city’s zoning ordinances to establish U.S. Highway 17 overlay districts when it meets Monday.
The Planning Board unanimously recommends the amendment be adopted. A Planning Board subcommittee completed the proposed overlay district guidelines in September.
According to the proposed resolution that would amend the ordinances, “the purpose of this amendment is to encourage managed, sensible interchange development by providing protective measures that promote safety, minimize the impact to the natural environment and promote highway beautification.”
In early 2006, the council began discussing the need to protect the bypass corridor from unwanted development. Existing land-use control ordinances are not adequate to respond to expected increased development adjacent to the bypass, according to the city. Land uses along the bypass corridor are expected to include, but not be limited to, residential, commercial, industrial and institutional.
One of the two interchange overlay districts for the bypass corridor will be located where the bypass intersects U.S. Highway 264 near the southern end of Whispering Pines Road. The other overlay district will be located where the bypass intersects U.S. 17 adjacent to the northern end of Whispering Pines Road.
In January, the council imposed a 121-day moratorium on development located in the districts. That moratorium expired May 14. In August, the council renewed — for 90 days — that moratorium, which expires Nov. 10.
At that January meeting, Jane Alligood, a member of the Planning Board but who said she was speaking as a city resident, said she wants to prevent the bypass area from becoming a “concrete jungle,” which is what she considers the existing U.S. 17 in Washington.
The proposed amendment recognizes that view.
The proposed ordinance is intended to ensure that new development will be compatible with respect to design, signage, lighting, screening and access points. It is not meant to dictate specific land uses within the areas regulated, according to the proposed amendment. Instead, it is intended to ensure that development within the area will meet a minimum set of standards. The proposed amendment does not apply to single-family residential dwellings.