The Stockton Planning Commission held a pair of public hearings last Tuesday that centered around changes to the town’s subdivision public improvements ordinance and non-conforming structures ordinance.
Roger Baker, who serves as Stockton Town attorney, presented the changes. One change to the town’s existing code on subdivision improvements was to include the word public throughout the ordinance.
Baker also clarified the language that requires public improvements in a subdivision, such as sidewalks or streetlights, to be completed within a year of final plat approval by the Town Council. He also added language that would allow for two six month extensions if there are unforeseen delays like a dip in the housing market or back-ordered items.
“Sometimes a year isn’t enough so it’s good to build in flexibility for extensions to that year that are not automatic but can be granted by the town council,” Baker said.
The changes also clarify what parts of sewer and water lines the property owner is responsible for and the portions still owned by the city.
Under the proposed ordinance change, the section of the water lateral between the main line and the water meter is owned by the town. The rest of the lateral is the responsibility of the property owner.
For the sewer line, the entire lateral line between the home and the main line is owned and maintained by the property owner.
The ordinance also clarifies the maintenance of street lights shall be either the responsibility of the power company or the town, to be determined by the two parties.
The planning commission voted to table approval of the public improvements ordinance, which covered a number of sections including performance guarantees.
The non-conforming structure ordinance was amended to abide by state law, according to Baker. A non-conforming structure refers to those constructed before zoning rules changed and made it illegal.
An example Baker provided was residential lots that are narrow but deep, which fell out of favor and aren’t allowed under most current zoning. Legal non-conforming is essentially a legal outdated use, Baker said.
If a structure in a legal non-conforming lot is involuntarily destroyed, by a disaster such as a fire, earthquake or flood, the structure can be rebuilt in the same non-conforming way.
“If a house is involuntarily destroyed by fire, (and) it’s a non-conforming structure,” Baker said. “It means they couldn’t build it if they started new. State law requires you to allow it to be rebuilt anyways.”
If the structure isn’t rebuilt within a year, however, the same non-conforming use can’t be applied to the property.
“The whole concept of nonconforming use isn’t to allow them to exist forever,” Baker said. “It’s to allow them to exist for a reasonable period of time to recoup the investment that people have put in.”
The planning commission unanimously approved the non-conforming structure ordinance.