Zoning Recodification Working Group - Oct 20th, 2017

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We start with a de-brief of Wednesday night's public forum.

Several attendees asked us to slow down the process. Among the group, I think there was consensus that we should not release the third reading draft until all public comments have been incorporated. It would also be nice to release the comment matrix (showing how comments were handled) in conjunction with the third reading draft. There's also a consensus that we should push back the ARB hearing, and the special town meeting if necessary, to give the process more time.

The ARB hearing will likely be spread out over three evenings.

David believes we should avoid doing anything discretionary. If an inconsistency with state law must be fixed, then we should fix it. But if it's not absolutely necessary to fix, then we should leave it as is.

We agree that the inland wetland section of the ZBL needs a more detailed comparison with town wetlands protection laws and conservation commission regulations. Areas that are definitely covered by the conservation commission could be taken out. Anything not covered by the conservation commission should be left in.

A number of meeting attendees requested a redline, and two of us experimented with ways to produce one. Marshall picked three sections at random and marked them up. The format is old section as-is, followed by new section with changes in red. It's a very nice presentation, which allows the reader to do an over/under comparison of individual sections. The downside: all the redlining has to be through manual inspection. Marshall felt this was a good exercise, and he found a few issues, like a missing bullet point. (Although I believe the missing bullet point is a known defect in the second draft).

Nancy obtained .doc files of the ZBL from Laura, for the purpose of experimenting with redlining. Her first effort used Word's Compare documents function to generate a whole-document redline between the current and recodified versions of the ZBL. The entire thing was red. Nancy is an attorney who's used to dealing with redlined documents, and she felt this one was not helpful at all. We might want to give this to people who explicitly ask for it (to show why a whole document redline is not helpful), but it's probably not something we want to release to the general public.

Nancy did another experiment, where she took an individual section, copied the current version into one document, copied the recodified version into a second document, and then did Compare Documents. This was more usable, and we could do something with this approach. There's agreement that we should not try to produce a redline from the second reading draft. Instead, we should wait for the third reading draft and work from that. We'll have to find staff and volunteer (aka working group member) time to produce such a document. If everyone redlines the sections they've been working on, this might not be too bad a task.

Next, we talk about the nitty-gritty of project timelines and contract deliverables. RKG is contractually obligated to produce three reading drafts. We cannot get a fourth reading draft without extending or renegotiating the contract. Or, a fourth reading draft would have to be produced by DPCD staff. There's also the fact that Judi left RKG during the project; she's still working on it, but that puts us in a position of not having management support from RKG.

Ralph is skeptical about doing a fourth reading draft. In his experience, people will request changes as long as they're given the opportunity to do so. At some point, you just have to draw the line and take it to a hearing.

Our next topic is outreach. Laura passes out copies of the outreach plan we developed several months ago. We need to focus on outreach during our next meeting. David suggests sending a survey to town meeting members, and proposes a few questions. We'd like to get more town meeting members involved in the process. Working group members who are town meeting members (David, Christian, and Steve) are encouraged to take the temperature of their fellow TMMs. Are they following the recodification, have they looked at the recodification or the guide, can they follow it, and how would they be likely to vote.

DPCD will accept comments through November 9th, which is the date of the last zoning recodification open house. The open houses have been disappointing, with very few people attending.

Finally, we talk about illustrations. Ralph had assembled a sample list of illustrations from other zoning bylaws. We believe there should be illustrations for

  • Parking (both residential and commercial)
  • Accessory structures
  • Yards and setbacks
  • Usable Open space
  • Various lot configurations (corner lot, through lot)
  • Building height, including sections of the bylaw that deal with buildings of uneven height
  • Floor area ratio
  • Height buffer area

Next meeting: 8:00am on November 1st.