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The May 29 joint session of the Poncha Springs Board of Trustees and the Planning and Zoning Committee began with a public hearing on a preliminary plat for the Harder-Diesslin minor subdivision. The plat, which involved a split-zoned parcel planned for live-work accommodations, was unanimously approved, but only after extensive discussion over the decision to leave it a dual-zoned parcel.

Developers Bill Hussey and Walt Harder made a presentation that laid out the scope of the project. The plat called for subdivision of the 10-acre parcel of land adjacent to the existing Monarch’s Crossing development, into four lots on the west side of Halley Avenue, with two out-lots behind the initial four slated for further development, for a total of 14 townhouses configured in a live/work arrangement.

The proposed subdivision called for no rezoning requests, so the subdivision would fall into the two current zones on the property; SD-1 and T-5. SD-1 is a “live-work by right” zoning, and T-5 is a “live/work by warrant or review” zoning, but allows for two-to-three-story buildings, as opposed to the one to two-story limit of the SD-1 zoning requirements.

This development, according to Hussey, would “complete Halley Avenue, and the town’s vision of a walk-able business incubator district.”

Trustee Dean Edwards asked why the developers had not requested a zoning change for the subdivision, to make the development all one zone. Walt Harder replied that he had thought it would be simpler to develop the plan within the existing zoning on the property.

Edwards stressed that one zone, SD-1, allows for Auxiliary Dwelling Units (ADUs) on the lots, and wondered about the impact of split zoning within the development. Harder then asked what would be necessary to switch the proposed development to all one zoning.
Town Administrator Brian Berger said that a change of zoning request was possible, and could be attached to the final plat approval, the only change to the process being that the final plat would have to have a 45-day notice, as opposed to a 30-day notice.

Mayor Ben Scanga made a motion that the Planning and Zoning Committee approve the preliminary plat, including plat notes as presented, with the suggestion that Harder-Diesslin ask for approval of a rezoning request at the presentation of the final plat, The motion was made contingent upon approval of the architectural elevations, to be sure that the project would fit with the existing development in the area. Steve Rust seconded, and the motion passed unanimously. Dean Edwards then made the motion for the Board of Trustees to approve the P & Z recommendation, which Darryl Wilson seconded. This motion also passed unanimously.

The subject of auxiliary dwelling units, or ADUs was raised in the consideration of two W1 warrants for short-term rental requests. The first, proposed for 650 Hoover Circle, was for an owner-occupied residential unit. The owner, Kevin Pascarelli, would be permanently occupying one bedroom of a three-bedroom house, reserving the other two bedrooms and bathroom for paying guests.

The second proposal, for 601 Hoover Circle, was for a “tiny house” ADU to be situated behind the residence of Sabra and Michael Byer. P & Z Committee member Kirk Donovan led discussion of the impact of short-term rentals, sometimes referred to as AirBnB; on the existing neighborhood, as well as on the town and town revenues. P&Z moved to approve Pascarelli’s warrant, and the action was approved by the Board of Trustees.

The second warrant generated more discussion, with the consensus among the P & Z committee members that the “tiny house” guesthouse was too small to meet the definition of an ADU, and in addition lacked the necessary infrastructure for independent utilities. Donovan moved that the P & Z recommend denying the approval for this warrant, and Dave Ward seconded. This motion passed with Steve Rust abstaining. Darryl Wilson then made the motion for the Board to deny approval, Dean Edwards seconding. This motion passed unanimously. “It’s a good concept,” said Mayor Scanga to the applicant, “but it doesn’t fit in with the neighborhood.”

Ward asked whether the town was prepared to address the issue of zoning and permits for short-term rentals in the near future. Berger agreed, saying he wants to convene a subcommittee to work on the issue and then report back with recommendations. The joint meeting then adjourned for the regular Board of Trustees meeting.