City officials ready suggestions for county subdivision regulations

Even though members of Craig city government complain that county subdivision regulations need improvement, only one city councilor and the city engineer have come forward with advice for updated regulations.

As the regulations currently stand, a new water runoff rule is the only change that really affects the city.

But Don Jones, the city council liaison for planning and zoning, said he plans to contact Sue Graler, county planning director, with several suggestions that would improve the compatibility of city and county zoning regulations.

"It's a good update, but it seems pretty generic," Jones said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Graler said she had only heard from Bill Early, the city engineer, regarding the new zoning regulations.

Dave Costa, city community development director, said the county's new zoning regulations are "not resolving anything." He said he had not yet read the regulations because he has been too busy with city zoning issues.

The city is currently updating their zoning regulations. The update should be complete in about eight months, Jones said.

The city's silence comes after a Craig City Council meeting in late February where city representatives heavily criticized the county's zoning regulations. City Councilors and Mayor Dave DeRose complained that it has been costly to annex county lands into the city boundaries, because city zoning regulations don't match county zoning regulations.

The new water runoff regulations prohibit subdivisions under two acres from increasing the historical runoff into the city. Early said he thought the requirement was reasonable.

Two-acre subdivisions would have to construct retention ponds to control runoff to avoid increasing the elevation of the 100-year flood plain.

The idea of the 100-year flood plain, Early said, is that once every 100 years a bad flood will strike. When that event happens, homeowners want their houses to be at a high enough elevation to be protected from the flood. In order to be eligible for flood insurance, homeowners' houses must be above the flood plain.

Increased runoff could increase the reach of the100-year flood plain, putting houses that had been safe in danger.

But Jones said problems with the new subdivision regulations include a lack of attention to the urban development boundary, an area to the east, north and west of Craig that is eligible for annexation. Many subdivisions eligible for annexation do not meet city zoning specifications, Jones said, meaning it is costly to alter them for annexation.

But Jones said the changes aren't entirely the county's responsibility.

"Everybody needs to work off the same page if a subdivision has the potential to be annexed," he said.

For example, subdivisions in the urban development zone would not necessarily need to have sidewalks and streetlights if they are located in a rural area. But the roads would need to be wide and stable enough for emergency vehicles to drive on, Jones said.

The best solution to the regulation compatibility problem would be the development of a joint city-county planning commission that could set zoning ordinances for the urban development zone, Jones said. County and city personnel have both discussed the possibility of developing such an organization, but no plans to develop have yet been formulated.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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