Glynn County has hired a group, TSW, to rewrite the messed up zoning ordinances for the county. One of the mainland planning commissioners has already suggested to this group that it might be time to think about raising the height limit of buildings on Saint Simons Island. He proposed that we might think of "going up some" away from the coast. Luckily, many of our residents contacted TSW and spoke up against this idea even though some called this a false issue. At a meeting with county residents on October 5th, a TSW representative said that due to the input from island residents they would not consider high rises on the island. 65 residents attended this meeting. As always, if we do nothing, the developers will win.
TSW is looking for ways to reduce the density of future development on the island. Many of their ideas are "work around" methods of reducing density without changing zoning, which is difficult.
The following are questions which TSW is considering in reworking the ordinances for Glynn County. Many of these ideas could be used to control density. One specific question has to do with existing forest and agriculture zoning. As it currently stands, forest and agriculture zoning allows the owner to put in a subdivision on this land with 1/2 acre lots. If the language of this zoning were to change to either eliminate subdivisions in forest and agriculture zoning, or replace the size of the lots to something like two acre lots, this would reduce future development density. This is just my thought, but might be something to consider when answering the questions below. Also, In several of these questions it is suggested that a trade be allowed to create green space. If the trade allows smaller lots, it will not reduce density.
Please contact TSW with your thoughts on the following by printing these questions out and sending your answers to TSW at:
TSW: The Silhouette Building
1447 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30309 The Silhouette Building
1447 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
Maximum Height • Should maximum building height continue to be based on sea level, so that buildings at lower elevations can be taller?
• There is currently a three-story height limit on all of St. Simons Island except in the VR Village Residential zoning district, where the maximum height is two stories. Should this be revisited?
• What should the maximum height for communications towers be? Regulations are currently inconsistent and should ultimately be in line with the latest federal standards.
Design Standards • Minimum site design and architectural design standards exist for certain types of development. Should these be strengthened in certain areas or countywide?
• Should specific design standards be provided for the St. Simons Village Overlay or are the existing general principles appropriate?
Should the Village Mixed Use district include additional design standards?
• Should design standards be established near I-95 exits or for other commercial areas?
• Are aspects of form-based zoning appropriate for any areas of the County?
Open Space • Should a minimum amount of private open space be required for new developments?
Should there be incentives for the preservation of natural or open areas?
Historic Buildings • Should the demolition or significant alteration of historic structures in the St. Simons Village or elsewhere in the County be regulated?
Should there be incentives to preserve cultural or historic resources?
Buffers • Should setbacks continue to be counted as part of any required buffers, or should buffers be required in addition to setbacks?
• Are the various depths and types of buffers appropriate, or should they be revisited?
Should narrower buffers continued to be allowed where there are fences or walls?
Fences and Walls • Currently, there are some minimum fence and wall heights. Should maximum fence and wall heights be established by zoning district?
• Should fence and wall materials be regulated in any areas of the County?
Signs • Should sign height, size, illumination, electronic signs, billboards, and other sign regulations be updated, including in specific areas such as along certain corridors or near scenic or historic areas?
Lot Coverage and Pervious Pavement • Should pervious pavement continue to count toward maximum lot coverage based on the definition of Site Coverage?
• Should pervious pavement continue to be prohibited in parking lots with more than 10 spaces?
• Should lot coverage restrictions be established in all zoning districts?
Neighborhood Retail • Should a neighborhood commercial zoning district be established that allows small-scale retail but not strip centers?
Reverse Frontage • Should reverse frontage (in which the backyards of houses face the road) continue to be allowed on major roads as long as there are buffers?
Zoning Districts • Some zoning districts are nearly identical to other zoning districts. Should the number of districts be reduced?
Can districts that are on the books but not applied to any property be deleted?
• Should PD Planned Development continue to be available for future rezonings, or should it be retired as a legacy district, while continuing to apply to sites already zoned PD? Should a Mixed Use or Traditional Neighborhood Development district be established to allow for new village-type development in appropriate areas?
Public Notices • Is the requirement that rezoning notifications be mailed to property owners within 200 feet appropriate?
• Should posting a notice on the affected property and online be required for subdivisions, land disturbance activity permits, or building permits?
• Should residential developments on the Islands be prohibited from applying for variances from maximum lot coverage regulations?
• Should the County Commission continue to decide all sign variances, or should they be decided by the Board of Appeals?
• Currently, the Board of Appeals makes the final decision on all variances except for lot coverage variances in certain commercial districts, which are decided by the Planning Commissions (based on different criteria than the usual variance criteria). Should this continue to be the case?
• Should the Community Development Director continue to be able to grant administrative variances to expand nonconforming buildings? This is currently allowed only where there is no objection from neighboring property owners and certain other criteria are met.
• New chimneys, steeples, flag poles, and similar architectural elements taller than the maximum building height must currently be approved by the Planning Commission, based on certain criteria. Should this continue to be the case?
Subdivisions • Should non-residential subdivisions and residential subdivisions with four or fewer lots continue to be approved administratively?
Site Plan Review • Should all commercial buildings, including very small buildings and unenclosed buildings, continue to require site plan approval?
• Should site plans (including site plans in PD Planned Development districts for developments over three acres) continue to expire after two years?
• How should Planning Commission site plan review criteria should be updated, given legal constraints?
Engineering Standards • Should alternate engineering standards for developments that use light impact drainage practices rather than conventional engineering be allowed as long as they still properly manage stormwater?
New Street Standards • Should new private streets continue to be allowed as long as they are built to public street standards and not gated?
• Should street lights be required on new streets?
• Should sidewalks be required on new streets?
• Should new street width standards be rephrased as requirements rather than minimums?
Parking and Loading Spaces • Should parking requirements be reduced to allow the market to control the supply of parking spaces?
Should mixed-use developments be allowed to internally share parking for uses with parking demands at different times of the day and week?
Should parking spaces leased on nearby properties be allowed to count toward parking requirements in certain circumstances?
• Is the requirement for a minimum number of loading spaces still important, or should it be removed or reduced?
• Should standards for bicycle or golf cart parking be established?
Connectivity • Interparcel access driveways are currently required for all commercial development. Should these also be required for other types of development, such as multifamily residential or industrial?
• Should connectivity requirements for new streets be clarified and strengthened to more clearly require new streets to be connected to existing and proposed streets?
Curb Cuts • Curb cuts for driveways currently have a minimum width. Should there be a maximum width?
Policy Questions: Miscellaneous Family Size • Should the definition of Family be updated to allow for additional living situations? Currently, households with roommates or adopted children do not meet the definition of family.