Proposed Changes to Old Town Mixed Use in Walkersville

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The Walkersville Planning Commission will discuss the draft of proposed changes to the Old Town Mixed Use (OTM) District at the commission’s public hearing Tuesday evening.

Discussions about updating the OTM District began when the owners of the old Walkersville Market on Maple Avenue asked for an exception to the number of uses based upon the square footage of the property.  Throughout the discussions, Planning Commission members found more and more issues with not only the applicant’s property, but a large number of the properties.  They decided to suggest updates to the Burgess and Town Commissioners.  For several months, members have discussed the changes needed to bring most of the properties into compliance with the code.

Walkersville Town Code defines the OTM District in §88‑36.  The changes under consideration for proposal include the following:

  • Adding “Three Family Dwellings” to Permitted Uses
    • Some of the existing properties already have three residential units.
  • Deleting “5. No parking in front yard, except as permitted for residential uses.”
    • The Walkersville Market property, in particular, has had parking in the front yard for as long as anyone can remember.
  • Clarifying that “No non-residential use may be open for business earlier than 7:00 a.m. or later than 10:00 p.m.”
    • The code as written before technically made it illegal to reside in any of the properties during those hours.  The change also allows business owners to work in the properties outside of the hours for which they are open for business.
  • Eliminates the requirements for off-street parking except in the case that a change of use, expansion of, alteration to, or a new use in structures which existed prior to January 1, 2001.
  • Reduces the number of required off-street parking spaces for new construction or redevelopment to two parking spaces per use.
    • The town code currently requires four parking spaces or one parking space per one-hundred square feet of floor space, whichever is greater.
  • Makes the same changes to parking requirements for Special Exception Uses.
  • Eliminates the minimum lot area and minimum lot widths for uses within the OTM District
  • Reduces the minimum Front Yard depth from 35 feet to 20 feet.
  • Reduces the minimum Rear Yard depth from 40 feet to 25 feet.
  • Adds a new section 88-57.2 Modification of yard requirements:
    •  Front Yard Modifications for Existing Building Alignment
      • When appropriate, the Planning Commission may increase or decrease the depth of the required front yard in any district so that such front yard will approximate the average depth of the existing front yards of the existing buildings on adjoining lots on each side, or if there are no such adjoining buildings, shall approximated the average depth of the front yards of the nearest buildings on the same side of the street within two hundred (200) feet.

If the Planning Commission approves the changes, they will be forwarded to the Burgess and Town Commissioners for adoption. Upon approval, the owners of the Walkersville Market plan to rent one or two more sections of the building. One current tenant began operating an olive oil distribution business from the building recently.

The Walkersville Planning Commission will meet in the Walkersville Town Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

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