Creating one,unified development ordinance

Published 8:21 pm Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Despite the lack of any current activity, Polk County is moving ahead with comprehensive land use planning.

The 20/20 Vision Plan was adopted in March. It outlines broad goals for concerns which primarily arose during the development boom, concerns which many believe will arise again in the years to come. The plan, which started years ago with surveys of county residents, outlines goals for affordable housing, commercial development, land conservation, controlled growth, farmland preservation, greenspace, ground and surface water, industrial development, trails, subdivisions and zoning.

The logical next step, the Polk County Board of Commissioners has decided, is to create a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The board on Monday began looking at applications from those who served on the 20/20 committee to create one new ordinance for the county that consolidates all the countys land use ordinances into one. That would be the flood plain ordinance, the mobile home ordinances, the watershed ordinance, the well ordinance, the ridgetop and steep slope ordinances, the zoning ordinances, the subdivision ordinances.

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Right now, when anyone approaches the county, County Planner Cathy Ruth has to sort through all the various ordinances to find which applies the strictest codes.

The UDO work, however, will go beyond just compiling current ordinances into one document. The new UDO committee will likely make recommendations for changes to county ordinances to put specific regulations into the countys tool kit to achieve the goals set out in the comprehensive plan. Plans for any forced zoning are being ruled out, but the unzoned northern townships remain under threat of Lake Lure extending extra territorial zoning unless Polk has some, minimal control in place.

The first step in creating a UDO will be to get broad representation on the new drafting committee&bsp;&bsp; JB