Mt Pleasant freezes residential zoning permits while review and public hearings are held
By James Tilson
Mt. PLEASANT—The Mt. Pleasant City Council has taken the first step on a revamp of the city’s zoning ordinances as a component of updating the Mt. Pleasant general plan.
General plans typically run for 10 years. The plan now in place is getting close to expiration. Connie Roper, chairwoman of the Mt. Pleasant Planning Commission, said the new plan would run from 2020 to 2030.
While it works on the zoning ordinances, the city will take advantage of the Pending Ordinance Rule, a state administrative rule, which moves away from so-called moratoriums but permits cities to “freeze” building permits while putting new zoning ordinances in place, Roper said.
The city is reviewing and updating zoning in all categories—residential, commercial and industrial. But at a meeting last week, the city council voted to only freeze permits in it four residential zones—RS (residential single-family), RA (residential-agricultural), RM (residential-multiple) and RMH (residential mobile and modular homes).
Under the Pending Ordinance Rule, the freeze lasts until new zoning ordinances are adopted, but can’t extend more than six months.
The Mt. Pleasant Planning Commission has completed drafts of the revised residential zoning ordinances. Roper said there are no plans to redefine residential zones. The draft ordinances anticipate continuation of the four zones that now exist.
But changes are being considered in some of the requirements within the zones. “And we’re cleaning up ambiguous language,” she said.
“We’ve been getting complaints about new duplexes going in,” said David Oxman, city finance director. “And we’ve also gotten complaints from residents at Aspen Grove about new trailers going in.”
Presently, a duplex is permitted in the RS and RA zone so long as a new duplex will not be closer than 300 feet from an existing one.
However, Roper said there have been concerns that the minimum lot size permitted, especially in the single-family zone, is not large enough for two duplex units, two resident parking spaces and one guest parking space, as presently required. So there are proposals to change the minimum lot size for duplex.
Concerns about mobile homes center on new, larger mobile homes being brought in and placed on relatively small mobile home lots, particularly in Aspen Grove.
In the past, cities and counties that encountered planning problems sometimes imposed moratoriums while they worked on solving the problems. The moratoriums could go as long as the governing body wanted. There were complaints that the moratoriums infringed on property rights of people who wanted to develop their properties.
The state response was the Pending Ordinance Rule, which permits local governments to put a hold, which the rule calls a “freeze,” on building permits only while ordinances to remediate the problems are being considered. And the law limits the freezes to six months.