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Zoned in: Zoning ordinance rewrite affects residents and businesses; village will hear from public, October 25

October 20, 2010 - Houses and business will stay put, but the plots underneath them will change if the Lake Orion Village Council moves forward with a zoning ordinance rewrite.

The rewrite was passed along by the village's Planning Commission after the group finished a multi-year process checking to see how it could alleviate major issues, like the number of residents going before the Board of Zoning Appeals for variances.

The council set Oct. 25 as the date for first reading of the proposal; second reading and possible adoption will come at a later date in November.

"We know that we're a built community, we know that there are a lot of nonconformities, and we took a look at modifying regulations to make fewer properties have to come in for variances," said Sally Hodges of McKenna Associates, village consultants. Some current lot sizes in one of the residential districts, for example, don't match the standard lot size.

Hodges also said the new ordinance document will be easier to use, and feature more graphic elements and bigger font sizes.

One of the most noticeable changes to residents and business owners will be new zoning districts. The rewrite includes only two single-family residential districts a village area and a lake area as opposed to the three currently drawn on the zoning map.

"That mirrors the master plan that the village adopted several years ago," Hodges said. "The difference in lot sizes between R1-A and R1-B (two separate residential areas) is really not as important as the character of the village and the character of the lake."

Hodges said the commission spent a lot of time examining wall and fence standards and they propose allowing some sorter fences in front of homes and sight-obscuring fences in the lake areas.

"That was thought to be a typical desire of people for safety and protection," she said.

The new ordinance would also decrease required residential lot sizes to better match reality and reduce nonconformities. And it would change regulations on recreational vehicle and boat storage, relaxing standards and making a number of them more allowable, according to Hodges.

Commercial areas would be divided between downtown, M-24 corridor and mixed use districts, rather than having commercial divided down the middle by M-24. And landscaping requirements, like lighting, would come with illustrations and explanations

But for all the time the Planning Commission spent on researching zoning issues in Lake Orion, Chuck Snyder, a resident and property owner says he still isn't satisfied with their communication and their proposed changes.

"The way of notifying me of (zoning changes) is for me to look at the newspaper every week and look for a little two-by-two add in the back that says, 'Hey, there's a public hearing on the zoning ordinance.' I think that is ridiculous," said Snyder. "You're changing my zoning classification and you're changing my zoning, and you don't have the courtesy to send me a letter that tells me that."

Snyder added that changing the classification for one of his businesses that's been open for 60 years from permitted use to special use doesn't make sense at all.

He's also displeased that it took until 2010 for the commission to seek changes to a document that was last updated in 1983.

"That's just incomprehensible," said Snyder. "The reason so much time had to be spent (reworking the ordinance) is because it was a nightmare. It would seem that you would adopt a process that every five years or every seven years something other than every 28 years you update this thing."

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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