The proposed text amendment primarily
seeks to clarify existing regulations on permitted uses in
the floodplain, based on longstanding administrative
practices. The amendment does also make some substantive
changes, allowing certain recreational and agricultural
structures within the floodplain as a permitted use rather
than a special exception use.
last several years, two major text amendments related to
floodplain have been initiated and considered by the
Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, but each have
ultimately been tabled with no consensus reached on the
major issues raised by these amendments, to include
redevelopment in the floodplain, floodplain relocation
and/or channelization; procedures related to wetland banking
in the floodplain; and increased requirements for floodplain
these text amendments also included relatively minor changes
to the floodplain regulations which staff sought in order to
clarify and simplify the application of the floodplain
Ordinance. This text amendment seeks to separate these
minor issues from the more controversial ones, in the hopes
that these minor issues can be resolved while discussion
continues on the broader issues raised by the earlier text
Each of the
changes proposed by this text amendment is summarized below.
4-405 sets forth the uses that are permitted in the
floodplain district (by-right). The following changes
have been proposed to this section:
reference has been added to the standards in 4-407 to
help users of the Ordinance more clearly understand that
the limitations of 4-407 apply to permitted uses.
current language that states no structures are allowed
with any of the uses has been changed to state that
structures are allowed where specifically authorized as
part of the listed use. This change rectifies an
existing contradiction in the regulations, some of the
uses listed as permitted necessarily require
structures. For example, private streets are currently
allowed by-right if serving no more than three lots;
however, such streets cannot be built without some
structure for crossing the floodplain, and such
structure has always been allowed despite the apparent
prohibition in the Ordinance against structures.
fences have been added as a permitted structure with
agricultural uses. Such fences have historically been
allowed, despite the existing language which appears to
prohibit all such structures.
Agricultural mills have been added as a permitted
building in conjunction with agricultural use, with only
the waterwheel itself allowed in the floodplain. This
change is proposed in conjunction with a specific
situation where a small grist mill was built adjacent to
the pond, with the building outside the floodplain but
the water wheel and its support within the floodplain.
There seems to be little policy value to requiring a
special exception in this case.
Agricultural ponds have been added as a permitted use.
This is a substantive change, as currently all ponds are
taken through the special exception process. The
Planning Commission deleted this proposed change from
its recommended version. The Commission felt that the
special exception process had allowed conditions
requiring best management practices on such ponds,
important for mitigating potential environmental impacts
of ponds in the floodplain.
Trails, including footbridges; open buildings such as
pavilions and gazebos; open fences; and recreational
structures such as play equipment, picnic benches, etc.
have been added as permitted structures for recreational
and open space uses. Such features have often been
allowed by-right, despite the existing language which
appears to prohibit all such structures.
noted earlier, language has been added clarifying that
the structures necessary for a street serving up to
three lots is allowed as part of the permitted use.
Improvements to existing public streets have been added
as a permitted use. This is a substantive change, as
such improvements currently require special exception
Underground public and private utilities (except wells,
which are specifically prohibited by the County Code)
have been added as a permitted use. While the existing
language of the Ordinance would appear to require a
special exception for such uses, they have often been
allowed in the past as permitted uses.
4-406 sets forth uses allowed with approval of a special
exception. No change is proposed to this section except to
clarify the shift of public street improvements to the
note that for all by-right and special exception uses, the
standards for approval continue to be the same, and in both
cases applicants must demonstrate through technical analysis
that no increase in flooding will occur off-site.
of Supervisors initiated the text amendment on October 10,
2009. On December 9, 2009, the Planning Commission held a
public hearing on the text amendment and unanimously
recommended approval of the revised version of the