June 16, 2015

Last July, the COWncil formed a Zoning SubCOWmittee, consisting of Council members Mason, Romines, and Tanner. Its charge includes issues related to basements, grading, accessory structures, and total floor area. Included in these discussions is the request of the Woodside Heights neighborhood to modify the rules in the SR Zoning District to allow for larger main residences while keeping total floor area allowed constant. Also, the Subcommittee has been looking at nonconforming lots and design review procedures. These are all important issues but it cow-ncerns us that they may have bitten off more cud than they can chew.

The subCOWmittee has been wrangling with tough issues related to basements. As it moves forward in its work, we would like to point out some principles we hope will be applied to all of the issues the subCOWmittee reviews.

• There should be no more regulation than is really necessary.

• Review of aesthetics should be limited to what is visible off site and even then limited to promoting the rural environment and not merely imposing what is a matter of taste.

• Process needs to be simplified. For example the mandatory two meeting system for ASRB is burdensome, not only on the applicants but on staff. Time is needed for multiple staff reports which causes delay on all pending projects including those not requiring ASRB.

• A Town wide survey should be taken on these larger issues so that the majority of COW’s wishes can be herd. Tools like Survey Monkey make it easy to get feed back.

• The regulations need to be fair and unambiguous and applied in an even handed manner.

We hope that they will follow this modified KISS rule Keep It Simple and Straightforward.

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