AUBURN — Members of the Auburn Planning Board unanimously voted Tuesday to recommend the Auburn City Council adopt the updated zoning code after it was revised based on comments from the public.
During the planning board meeting, Senior Planner Stephen Selvek discussed about a dozen changes that have been made to the final draft of the code.
The issue of tiny homes, an item that was not included in the city's code from the early 1990s, generated public comment from multiple sources as two Auburn human service organizations, Chapel House and Cape Haven, have plans to build tiny homes within the city for homeless persons.
The 75-percent draft of the code prohibited tiny homes smaller than 384 square feet and only allowed them to exist in clusters of at least four tiny homes. The final draft of the code reduces the minimum amount of square footage to 320 square feet, but still requires the homes to be built in clusters of four to 12 units.
Another issue that was remedied based on public comment involves the city's policy for alerting neighboring property owners of new development projects. According to the code's final draft, notification will be mailed out to all neighboring properties 400 feet from all boundaries of the property in question five days prior to a project being introduced at the city planning board meeting.
Auburn resident Karen Walker, who raised concern about the previous notification policy, said she was satisfied with the changes.
"I'm especially appreciative of the mayor, city council and city manager in both hearing the public's recommendations and what appears to be an affirmative response," Walker said after the meeting.
In June, city council voted to impose a six-month moratorium on applications for new billboards as the zoning code was being updated. Originally, city staff wanted to prohibit all new billboards from going up and remove all existing billboards within the next three years. However, after representatives from Park Outdoor Advertising and local businesses expressed concern regarding the policy, it was changed in the code's final draft.
New billboards are still prohibited. However, one new digital billboard can be placed in the highway commercial zoning district if the advertising company removes four existing billboard faces from any other zoning district. Selvek said there are 10 billboards within the city, plus the digital billboard on the Arterial.
Rules regarding the planning board are also included in the updated code. One major change would reduce the number of board members from seven to five. The code would also provide guidelines for state-regulated board member training, as well as the option for the planning board to review and update the zoning code as needed every April, Selvek said.
Board Chairman Sam Giangreco said he does not support changing the number of board members.
Selvek also discussed changes regarding food trucks, microbreweries, RV and heavy equipment storage, drive-thrus, standards for heavy industrial uses, short-term rentals and the different zoning districts.
Selvek said there are likely to be additional changes and revisions made to the code following a final public hearing, which will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14 during the city council meeting. The code is scheduled to be voted on by the council the following week.