Post #539: MAC moratorium schedule revisited – CORRECTED

Posted on March 5, 2020



Edit:  The main point of this post may be moot.  Town Council member Noble has reminded me that he has already asked that Town Council rescind MAC zoning entirely.  (Technically, Town Council would refer a motion to the Planning Commission to rescind all of MAC.)  That motion would be made at a Town Council meeting in late April or early May, at the same time the Town Council approves the consulting contract for rewriting the Town’s zoning.

At that point, if successful, MAC would be rescinded, and zoning on Maple would be by-right zoning under some variation of the commercial zoning that we have now.  Any MAC-like elements would have to be embodied in changes in the commercial code, not in revision of a separate MAC zoning.

I’m not clear on the details, but my guess is that this still entails a very tight schedule.  My understanding is that this change in the zoning rules requires two public hearings.  If so, the schedule here would have to be replaced by an equally strict schedule for rescinding MAC prior to the end of the MAC moratorium. 

So there’s still a fast track that has to be adhered to.  It’s just that the content of those hearings would be for rescinding MAC, not for extending the moratorium.

Just a reminder about unfinished business.  Briefly, the Town now needs to undertake a multi-step process to extend the MAC zoning moratorium.  May not seem like it, but the time available to do that is fairly short.  Let me walk through it.

On 11/4/2019, the Town Council extended the moratorium on new MAC zoning applications through June 30, 2020 (reference).

On 12/9/2019, they passed a motion to fold review of MAC zoning into the complete rewrite of all the Town’s zoning (reference).

On 12/9/2019, they didn’t extend the MAC moratorium.  That’s still left to do.  Instead, the minutes from that meeting read, in part, that our new zoning czar (Post #487) should provide ” … determination of a realistic moratorium period for the MAC zone based upon the scope of work identified.”

In other words, we are now waiting for Planning and Zoning staff to tell us how long the MAC moratorium must be extended.  Then Town Council has to go through the lengthy legal process to create that extension.

And that all must happen in the next four months.  And my point is, deadlines are approaching for getting that done.  In particular, Town staff have just about two months left to tell Town Council what that “realistic moratorium period” must be.  And then all the legally required steps for extending the moratorium have to go off like clockwork, from that point forward.

Detail follows.

In Post #409, I looked at the prior moratorium extension and laid out the most compressed schedule possible for that.  As I recall, it takes about six weeks to do all the legally required advertising, public meetings (both Planning Commission and Town Council), and then have at least 10 days elapse between the final passage of the moratorium extension and the time that takes effect.

So, working backwards, here’s the updated schedule:

As of now, the MAC moratorium ends on 6/30/2020. 

The last Town Council meeting prior to that is 6/15/2020.  That’s the last date on which the Town could hold its required public hearing.

They need to advertise that public hearing for two weeks, so they need to set the date for the Town Council public hearing at their 5/11/2020 Town Council meeting. (I believe that their 6/1/2020 Town Council meeting is too late to do that legally.)

I’m sticking with my prior estimate that the Town needs to advertise the public meeting no less than 13 days ahead of time.  So the advertisement for the meeting has to be published no later than roughly the first of June 2020.

Per Town code, Sec. 18-246 " ...  Notice of public hearings before the commission shall be given by publishing the time, place and notice of the hearing once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper having a paid general circulation in the Town. The public hearing shall be held not less than five nor more than 21 days after final publication. "

But before the Town Council discusses it, the Planning Commission must also hold a public hearing.  Formally, the Planning Commission then passes its recommendation on to the Town Council.  I’m pretty sure those schedules can overlap (PC and TC) as long as the Planning Commission holds its hearing and makes its recommendation before the Town Council public hearing.

There’s a Planning Commission meeting on 6/10/2020.  Again, I think they’d need to announce the public hearing a month ahead of time to allow time for it to be legally advertised.  That means the last date for announcing the Planning Commission public hearing is at their meeting on 5/13/2020.

Be forewarned this time that this is NOT a done deal at the Planning Commission level.  At least two MAC stalwarts did not want to pass an extension the last time.  Roughly speaking, all it will take is a couple of key PC members out with the flu, and this may not pass.  So we can guess that the PC will recommend an extension, but … who knows.

Moving forward from the present, there’s nothing about this on the Town’s 3/9/2020 Town Council meeting.  The main items there are setting public hearings for the Town budget, real estate tax rate, and sewer and water rates (Post #448).  After that, there are four Town Council meetings prior to the 5/11/2020 deadline for calling for the Town Council public hearing.

The upshot is that Town staff need to figure out how long the MAC moratorium needs to be, some time in the next two months.  And if they take that full two months, then all the required legal steps have to go off like clockwork, including the iffy step of making sure there are adequate votes on the Planning Commission to pass that extension.

The clock is ticking.

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