Fraser works with public to remedy code issues
The town of Fraser held an open house last week to discuss the Fraser Development Code update at the Fraser Historic Church, pulling a modest crowd to participate in conversations regarding numerous issues with the current code and how to remedy them.
“This has kind of been going on for the last year-and-a-half,” said Fraser Town Planner Catherine Trotter. “Most recently we were looking at options to allow for a smaller product type on some of the older lots in town. So we ended up doing a change to the zoning code in most of the zoning districts to allow for a conditional use process, which would allow for smaller lot sizes, smaller dimensional standards and smaller square footage of structure.
“I think the Planning Commission took a look at a lot of the zoning code, and we decided that there were lots of things in there that weren’t really working for the town.”
The driving force behind the code update seems to be a push to remove barriers to development to promote community housing and commercial infill developments. The process is also meant to streamline the development process, and remove redundancies in the code. The updated code should be considerably more user friendly, consolidating land-use related regulatory measures and adding graphics and charts to make it easier to understand.
The process began in earnest in September with a series of stakeholder interviews, and continued last week with the first public event on the update.
At the open house the town identified 16 different issues with the code, as well as multiple options for possible action regarding each. Residents were able to mark which option they preferred, or voice that no change was necessary.
The main areas of discussion surrounded signage, barriers in constructing attainable housing and accessory dwelling units, parking, mixed-use development, Planning Commission and Town Board approvals or various plats, and the addition of an open space zoning district.
Based on the small sample size, about 20 individuals participated in the event, there seems to be support for reducing barriers for attainable housing and assessory dwelling units. Residents expressed a desire to provide density bonuses for construction of deed-restricted attainable housing, allow construction of micro-unit apartments and houses, and allow for separate detached structures or “mother-in-law cottages.”
Participants also voiced a desire to establish a new mixed-use zoning district to help facilitate “the creation of a unique, walkable mixed-use neighborhood.” Also of note was the apparent desire to streamline development review by allowing town staff approval of minor plat amendments or minor subdivision plats by town staff as opposed to requiring approval from both the Planning Commission and Town Board.
The project comes in part due to a $25,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. A consultant team called Plan Tools, LLC out of Loveland is assisting the town with the project.
The timeline to adopt the updated code is somewhat ambitious. The town is planning joint work sessions between the Town Board and Planning Commission today and in January, and will hold stakeholder interviews as necessary over the coming months. Another public open house is scheduled for February before the Town Board holds an adoption hearing in March.
“This will lay the groundwork for what’s to come in the town of Fraser,” said Trotter. “It’ll be nice to not have to piecemeal and not have to do amendments to all these different parts of the code. We’re doing this one overhaul and hopefully we’ll capture a lot of the problems and challenges with the code.”
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