The Cedar Springs Planning Commission will hold its monthly meeting 7:00 p.m. June 15, 2015 at City Hall. At that meeting two public hearings will be held: one regarding the creation of a Planned Unit Development Overlay District (PUD) for the downtown and another on an amendment to a PUD site plan and corresponding special land use for The Pines Condominiums.
The Planning Commission has been working for the past several months on the PUD concept for the downtown. After serious study on the subject, the Commission believes this is the best way to encourage new development and provide flexibility in design that will support a traditional downtown area. One of the biggest advantages of the PUD is that applicants needing dimensional variances for design issues like setbacks, façade materials, signs, etc. will no longer have to make application to the Zoning Board of Appeals. This requires that they prove practical difficulty; a standard that is difficult to meet when the goal is to create innovations in site design. They will now be able to submit such requests as “waivers” to the Planning Commission as part of site plan review under the design elements of the project.
Moreover, the downtown PUD will not change the uses that are permitted by right and as special land uses in the current B-2 District. Instead, it will provide additional guidance to prospective developers, businesses and property owners regarding the City’s vision for the future. To provide this direction, the downtown PUD will have an associated Preliminary PUD Plan and a set of Downtown Design Guidelines. The Preliminary PUD Plan shows the relationship between commercial, mixed-use and residential buildings in graphic form while designating the most appropriate locations for future parking. Overall, the goal of the Preliminary PUD Plan is to maintain the traditional appearance of the downtown, with buildings setback at the sidewalk and parking to the rear and on-street.
The second aspect of the proposed PUD is the set of Downtown Design Guidelines, which supplement the requirements of the zoning ordinance. In fact, some of the guidelines mirror the requirements of the zoning ordinance to provide better direction to the reader. For those guidelines that supplement the zoning ordinance, they are not intended to be strict rules but instead provide the Planning Commission a framework within which decisions can be made. Independent judgment will be exercised in each case without sacrificing the intent behind the guidelines. Planning Commission consideration will be given to the specifics in each case and handled accordingly, The zoning ordinance requirements, on the other hand, must be adhered to, as with other ordinance regulations.
For a copy of the Downtown Design Guidelines, please click here.
For a copy of the proposed Planned Unit Development overlay ordinance, please click here.