By Mayor Kristine Lott
This month, the Planning Commission held a public hearing (warned on January 14th) on a proposed zoning amendment related to parking. Our regulations require minimum parking spaces for different land uses including residential, commercial, hotel, theater, industrial, and office. We do not currently have a way to set minimums for uses not listed, for example, school or educational facility.
The 2016 update to zoning removed a provision in the parking regulations setting the minimum parking requirements for uses not listed while adding allowances to reduce parking requirements by including options for shared use parking, Transportation Demand Management Strategies, and off-site parking options.
The proposed amendment aims to create a waiver process to establish parking requirements for the unlisted uses by having the project apply for a waiver from the minimum requirements through the Development Review Board (DRB). The applicant would need to provide a parking study and other evidence to support the amount of parking they propose to include in their project. The DRB would consider the evidence, existing minimums, the ability for the project to support parking needs in the site plan and potential impacts on surrounding parking facilities including City maintained streets or parking structures. DRB meetings are always public, and adjacent property owners are notified when one will occur, making this waiver request an open and public process.
The Planning Commission debated heavily on this amendment: On one hand, there is a need for non-listed use cases to be able to build appropriate parking – we don’t see a bunch of unused parking spaces taking up land in Winooski, causing negative impacts to stormwater management. On the other hand, there are concerns that new developments may under-provide parking and force residents to crowd public streets.
Ultimately, the Planning Commission voted to forward the amendment to City Council for their consideration. The City Council will receive an introduction of the proposed waiver amendment at their meeting on February 18th. Following the introduction, the City Council voted to hold a public hearing on the proposed amendment at their regular meeting on March 16th. After this public hearing, the City Council may vote to approve the amendment, make recommendations for changes to the amendment to be considered by the Planning Commission, or hold additional hearings to solicit additional public input.
The Planning Commission meets on the 2nd Thursday of the month. These meetings are open to the public. Agendas, schedules, and other details can be found here.
Feel free to reach out with questions regarding this update: Mayor Kristine Lott – firstname.lastname@example.org