York County looks at new rules to keep pace with growth

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comSeptember 13, 2013 

— On a night when York County Council moved forward with a 61-acre rezoning that would allow for more than 400 new homes along Hwy.160 West, members heard of plans that could allow for an easier path to future building.

Dave Pettine, planning and development director for the county, updated Council at its Sept. 3 meeting on coming changes that could benefit developers. Some lot sizes, setbacks and property dimensions could be changing in a code overhaul. The work is in response to a failed development rewrite, voted down by Council last year after three years of staff work.

“We’ve rolled up our sleeves and gotten back to work,” Pettine told Council.

Council didn’t approve the initial rewrite, dubbed the Unified Development Ordinance, when members said it went too far in what was required.

“We felt like it was anti-business and too much government intervention,” said Council Chairman Britt Blackwell.

Pettine said the new rules could reduce minimum lot widths from 65 feet to 40 or 50 feet in places, define uses like patio homes, reduce business to highway buffers and otherwise modernize county code. Much of the work would better cater to what builders are looking to accomplish.

“Our biggest challenge right now is dealing with the new residential market,” Pettine said.

The county planning commission has been heavily involved in the changes. That group, Pettine said, includes a good mix of business interests including builders. The result of the new rules could be fewer planned development requests and rezonings, since more flexibility would be allowed in the existing rules.

The changes are needed, Pettine said, to keep pace.

“If we don’t, I’m afraid we’re going to be left behind if some of these other jurisdictions have more modern regulations,” he said.

A new set of rules could come back to Council for approval in October.

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