Plan would inject variety into new development


New subdivisions in Union Bridge may have a more unusual look if the town planning commission is successful in its bid to amend the town's zoning ordinance.

The amendment is aimed at providing construction diversity in new subdivisions, such as the community of more than 400 units being planned for the 171-acre Phillips property on Route 75.

"There is a need to update the Union Bridge Zoning Ordinance so as to eliminate planned unit development and replace it with a more flexible option for residential development," the planning commission said in a resolution drafted by John T. Maguire II, the town attorney.

This type of planning "encourages clustering of housing, creation of open space and protection of environmentally sensitive areas," the resolution said.

The Town Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission met jointly Tuesday to discuss the amendment, to be introduced at the Dec. 27 council meeting.

"It will really give us a lot more flexibility," said Kathleen D. Kreimer, the town clerk-treasurer. "A lot of the decisions will be made by the planning commission."

If the current ordinance is amended, setback and easement requirements will be eliminated. The ordinance also will allow clustering lots into smaller areas, but will require developers to provide more open space on the same amount of land. The resolution said, "the new approach would be for the planning commission to exercise its discretion to impose reasonable requirements which best suit the individual properties."

Another provision would prohibit residential development in a general business district.

Under the current law, R-6000 residential uses are permitted in general business districts. But the planning commission wants to preserve the limited amount of general business land for commercial ventures "which are vital to the economic future of the Town of Union Bridge."

"There are only two general business areas in the town," said Brenda Dinne, the town's planning liaison. "If they fill up those areas with residences, then there will be no room to locate businesses in the area where they are supposed to go."

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