MRPO and UDO decisions await new board

Published 3:14 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The proposed UDO was a major factor during the election with the public hearing drawing hundreds against the new document that at the time was 400 pages. The proposed document is now closer to 300 pages after commissioners decided to take out controversial sections of the document and make the document more closely mirror current regulations.

Commissioners also recently recommended that the planning board rescind the current MRPO, which restricts development at elevations of 1,650 feet and higher. Many residents in the Saluda Township have contested the MRPO, due to the township being entirely above 1,650 feet. No commercial development is currently allowed in the Saluda Township (outside city limits) due MRPO restrictions.

But the Polk County Planning Board earlier this month unanimously recommended a replacement for MRPO, saying the board didn’t want to leave Polk’s mountains unprotected entirely.

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“We did feel it is really important to keep an ordinance of some kind on the books,” said planning board chair Lisa Krolak.

The planning board is recommending a steep slope ordinance, which can either be a standalone ordinance or placed in the UDO, the proposed compilation of all county ordinances into one document. Major changes to the steep slope ordinance, which was formerly proposed as Article 24 in the UDO are to increase the slope threshold for regulations to 30 percent slope as opposed to the former proposal of 25 percent slope and to no longer require a geotechnical analysis of the property in order to build on higher slopes.

The commissioner meeting on Dec. 3 will begin at 7 p.m. in the upstairs meeting room of the Womack building in Columbus.