Oak Creek on home stretch to approve updated land-use code | SteamboatToday.com

Oak Creek on home stretch to approve updated land-use code

Nicole Inglis

— It's been years since the process began, and the Oak Creek Town Board could be a month away from approving its updated land-use code.

At its biweekly meeting Thursday night, the Town Board approved, 6-0, a first reading of the code and held its final public hearing on the matter.

Town trustees mostly were relieved to have reached this moment in the process, after approving the updated Oak Creek Comprehensive Plan about a year ago.

"We've been working on this for three years, and I'm just glad to get it done," said Trustee Chuck Wisecup, who also is on the Planning Commission. "I believe we're going to make it more friendly for the businesses and streamline the whole process, and that was what we wanted to do from the beginning."

During the public hearing part of the meeting, consultant Susan Corser outlined the major changes to the code as well as some minor tweaks in wording made since the previous meeting.

"I think this is a really exciting code because what it does is it encourages the mixture of uses that gives this town character," Corser said. "It allows for a more organic growth but gives you more control."

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In the most basic sense, the major change was transferring to a "performance zoning" code, Corser said.

Previously, the code allowed any use in any part of town but included provisions for mitigating impacts.

Now, the code is a hybrid, zoning certain areas for single-family homes, retail, light industrial use and mixed use. Each district has a list of what uses are allowed, conditional or prohibited.

"Many uses are going to be conditional, so you have a lot of the leeway you had before," Corser told the board.

The new code will help support uses already in place in areas such as the new District 7, which is designated for light industrial, allowing the industrial businesses already in operation there to have standards built around that type of land use.

The code also includes a "rudimentary" architectural review component and basic design standards, which Corser said would allow the town to have slightly more control over aesthetics.

Other provisions of the updated code include a pre-application work session with Planning Commission, so prospective home or business owners will have the chance to sit down with the commission before the actual meeting, which could streamline the process.

"Within five business days of someone coming into the office, we're going to get a quorum of Planning Commission members together," said Planning Commission member Jeff Gust­afson in response to a trustee's concern about delays in the process. "And hopefully that pre-app has made the rest of the process better."

Mayor Nikki Knoebel said a lot of hard work has been involved in getting to this point.

"We're super excited. Every­­­one's worked really hard on making it easier to read and deal with and changing things that are out of date," Knoebel said. "Hopefully it will make … the process to be easier for the community to come in and use it."

The ordinance can be officially adopted as early as the March 10 Town Board meeting and will take effect 30 days after adoption.

In other action, the Oak Creek Town Board:

■ Approved, 6-0, a motion to issue credit cards to town department directors because it is easier to keep track of finances on credit cards than debit cards.

■ Approved, 6-0, a pay application for $140,536.58 to Duckels Construction for work completed on the water treatment plant project.

■ Listened to a report from Trustee Bernard Gagne on an estimate for remote read electric meters for the town. The system would allow wireless data collection and computerized analysis. It would cost just less than $100,000.

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or e-mail ninglis@SteamboatToday.com

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