Proposed Text Amendments to City Code, Introduced July 12, 2022 to P&Z.

On the agenda for the July 2022 meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission are three (3) variations on the existing City code Section 31.04 that governs the storage of equipment (including travel trailers, RV’s, Boats, trucks, buses, etc. in side and rear yards of residential properties within the City.

The Planning & Zoning Commission agenda packet for this meeting which can be found HERE under “Past Meetings” of the P&Z Commission outlines the history of this proposal and the details of the three directions that the City wants P&Z to consider with input from the public as well as their internal debate. The section in question begins on Packet Page 12.

Below, I will reproduce some of the content and add my comments and concerns.

The Code as it exists now, was debated and reviewed by the Board of Adjustment in April 2022, and found to be plain and clear. It is copied below;

Except as provided City of Litchfield Park City Code Section 9-5-5(H) for temporary parking of recreational vehicles on residential lots, recreational vehicles, boats, trucks, buses, utility trailers, or other non-building or land-scaping equipment shall be stored only in the side or rear yard and only in accordance with the following:

  1. Such items shall be completely screened from view of adjacent and nearby
    properties and the public rights-of-way and parks by a wall or fence not to exceed six feet in height or dense landscaping. Items that are more than six feet in height shall be set back a minimum of two feet for every foot of height from any side or rear property line.

The first re-write as proposed by the City is copied from the agenda as follows;

THIS IS THE VERSION I BELIEVE WE NEED TO APPROVE TO PROTECT THE CHARACTER AND CHARM OF LITCHFIELD PARK AND KEEP US IN STEP WITH ALL THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES WITH STRONG CC&R’S!

TA Version 1 (A more clearly worded version of CURRENT code that matches the current BOA interpretation, if this is the policy direction the City wants to maintain):

Such items shall be completely screened from view of BY adjacent and nearby
properties and the public rights-of-way and parks by a wall or fence not to exceed six feet in height AND/or dense landscaping, TO ENSURE THE EQUIPMENT IS COMPLETELY SCREENED FROM VIEW. DENSE LANDSCAPING IS NOT SUBJECT TO HEIGHT LIMITATIONS. Items EQUIPMENT that are IS
more than six feet in height shall be set back a minimum of two feet for every foot of height from any side or rear property line FROM NATURAL GRADE.

THIS ADDS LANGUAGE TO THE SECTION TO STRENGTHEN THE CONCEPT OF
COMPLETE SCREENING AND HOW TO MEASURE SETBACKS FROM
HEIGHT OF NATURAL GRADE.

The second proposed re-write is more permissive and is copied from the agenda as follows;

This version considerably loosens the setback requirements and although requiring dense screening, will result in the possibility that large items such as “toy haulers” and huge motor homes and travel trailers will clog our carefully protected open spaces between homes, ruining sight lines and the very attractive look and feel of open spaced dwellings we now enjoy.

TA Version 2 (a hybrid version that relaxes the setback requirement to better match those required of accessory structures and retains the “completely screened from view”component)

Such items shall be completely screened from view of BY adjacent and nearby
properties and the public rights-of-way and parks by a wall or fence not to exceed six feet in height or dense landscaping, OR COMBINATION THEREOF TO
ENSURE THE EQUIPMENT IS COMPLETELY SCREENED FROM VIEW. DENSE LANDSCAPING IS NOT SUBJECT TO HEIGHT LIMITATIONS.

Items that are more than six feet in height shall be set back a minimum of two feet for every foot of height from any side or rear property line. SCREENED EQUIPMENT NOT EXCEEDING TEN FEET IN HEIGHT SHALL BE SETBACK A MINIMUM OF FIVE FEET FROM ANY SIDE OR REAR PROPERTY LINE. SCREENED EQUIPMENT MORE THAN TEN FEET IN HEIGHT SHALL BE SET BACK FROM SIDE AND REAR PROPERTY LINES FIVE FEET PLUS ONE FOOT FOR EVERY FOOT OF HEIGHT OVER TEN FEET (STEP BACK).

THIS BASICALLY MATCHES REQUIREMENTS IN THE CODE FOR ACCESSORY STRUCTURES, KEEPING CONSISTENT WITH THAT SECTION OF CODE WHILE MAINTAINING COMPLETELY SCREENED EQUIPMENT FROM PUBLIC VIEW

The third re-write as copied from the agenda is as follows;

This is the version that is being pushed (inexplicably) by the City’s Zoning Administrator (ZA) who is actually the City Manager, Mathew Williams. Interestingly, he resides in a section of Litchfield Park that would not be affected if this version if codified, as his home is protected by strong CC&R’s that prohibit exactly the kind of storage he is calling for in this proposed re-write. THIS VERSION CONTRADICTS THE INTENT OF THE BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT AND THREATENS TO TURN THE PARK INTO JUST ANOTHER OF THE MANY SURROUNDING NEIGHBORHOODS THAT ARE LITTERED WITH UNSIGHTLY EQUIPMENT, FREELY STORED HAPHAZARDLY, AND DESTROYING SIGHT LINES, SETBACKS, AND THE SPECIAL CHARACTER OF THE PARK.

“TA Version 3 (a ZA Interpretation inspired version that includes language that allows partial visibility of equipment and reduces setback requirements):”

Such items shall be completely PARTIALLY screened from view of BY adjacent
and nearby properties and the public rights-of-way and parks by a wall or fence
not to exceed six feet in height or dense landscaping. DENSE LANDSCAPING
IS NOT SUBJECT TO HEIGHT LIMITATIONS. Items that EXCEED THE
HEIGHT OF THE ADJACENT SCREEN WALL AND/OR LANDSCAPING
shall be set back a minimum of two feet for every foot of height THAT
EXCEEDS THE HEIGHT OF ADJACENT SAID SCREENING.

THIS LANGUAGE WOULD MATERIALLY CHANGE THE UPHELD
INTERPRETATION OF THE BOA AND ALLOW THE PARKING OF
PARTIALLY VISIBLE RVS / EQUIPMENT ON PROPERTIES WITH LESSER
SETBACKS AND LIKELY PROVIDE RELIEF TO MANY OF THE RVS THAT
ARE STORED ON RESIDENTIAL LOTS IN VIOLATION OF CODE UNDER
CURRENT CODE INTERPRETATION.

Please Contact he Planning & Zoning Commission through Daniel Loftus (dloftus@litchfield-park.org) and express your desire in writing to see that Litchfield Park maintain its current strict Zoning Code and in support of re-write proposal #1.