Green Pastures

August 29, 2005

Ever since we can remember, people in this town have been using gravel on their property. It helps keep the dust down and isn’t as harsh-looking as paving over part of your land with concrete.

The amount of your lot which the Town allows you to pave is limited. However, the town historically treated gravel areas as being unpaved. These areas didn’t count at all in figuring out how much of the lot had been paved. This makes sense. Gravel isn’t impervious, like concrete. And, in a rural community, such as ours, with barns, pens, arenas and outbuildings, it is absolutely necessary to be able use your property without being knee deep in mud. Suddenly, in July 2002, the Planning Director decided to change the policy.

Without any action by the Town Council or even Planning Commission, she decided to count gravel against the paving limits. It could be as many as 40% of lots in Town that are now “non-conforming” under Town policy and are unaware of it. How did we hear about it? Well, you hear a lot when you hang around in the fields all day.

This change will severely limit what many folks will be able to build on their properties since the gravel will be counted against their allowable “paved” area. Our beef here at COW is that this doesn’t seem right. Let us know if you’ve had trouble because of this change in policy.

NO BULL: Below, you can check out a letter from the town about the new rules. Also, here are the minutes from the Planning Commission meeting that changed the rules and the Report that was given by staff.

0 Comments on “Green Pastures

  1. Might As Well Pave It Over!

    So, I might as well pave a bunch of my backyard I guess, well, that’ll keep the dust down!

  2. Concerned

    I did hear about this already but had not thought it through. I am concerned and would like to know how to find out if a property is nonconforming?

  3. Treehuggers

    Ok, how do we fix? We would not want to see paving allowances to be increased but understand from friends and neighbors that what is allowed now is not adequate. Not counting gravel seems like a good solution.

  4. #12

    This is beyond ridicules. If I want to put a gravel path up to my roses I can’t? What about those equestrian arenas? They have literally tons of gravel in them is this counted?

  5. D.V.M

    The original intent of regulating the percentage of impermeable surface on a given property is perfectly valid; to promote natural ground absorption of rain water and prevent excessive runoff. Gravel, however, as any gardener, physicist or elementary school science teacher will tell you, IS a permeable material. It DOES allow rain to be absorbed into the ground below, and acts as an effective “ground cover,” preventing erosion. Has the Planning Director given a reason for the policy change?

  6. Debbie Dodge

    I am so glad to see this story. I have been asking about it at the Town since it happened as it has proved detrimental to several of my clients. I do hope people will take a long look at this policy change.

    To Concerned, to find out if you are non-conforming you should figure out how many square feet of paving you have. This would include all driveways, decks, walkways, pool & decking and tennis courts etc. made out of asphalt, stone, concrete, wood and other such materials. These materials count at 100 per cent for the most part. Then you need to count up the areas you have gravel; walkways, parking spots etc. these areas will count at 50 per cent.

    I really recommend that you contact the Town’s planning department to confirm what counts and at what percent since some things like stone set in sand or decking over 3 feet from the ground or covered decking may not count or not count at 100 per cent. (#12 I do not know if horse arenas count but from what I can make out of the staffs interpretation of this policy, I imagine they would).

    You will also need to find out from staff what zone (R-1, SR, RR, SCP)you are in to find out how much paved area you are allowed. FYI, if your property has had any work in the last dozen years the plans associated with the work may have a lot of the paved area information on them – just make sure they match what exists today. If you do not have your plans you can ask town staff to show you any micro or laserfisch files they have on your property which may contain plans. Good luck!

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