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VERMONT — A joint working session between the Vermont City Council, Planning Commission and Board of District Appeals took place Monday evening on the South Plains Education Campus. The objective of the meeting was to review the zoning code update, which is being carried out with the assistance of MSA Consulting.

An initial kick-off meeting between the four parties took place in July. Since then, the MSA has met and done some business with city employees.

On Monday, Michael Lamb with MSA reviewed the results of an ongoing survey distributed at the meeting in July. He said the findings showed some larger problems that they wanted to get confirmation of. These include the belief that zoning codes should prioritize business-friendly development and that the city should include zoning areas that allow for a mix of uses.

Another finding in the survey is that many people said zoning law enforcement can be confusing and difficult to follow.

Vermont City Manager Kathy Reynolds has previously said that the city is undergoing an update to the zoning code in order to make it simpler and easier for everyone to understand — both employees and community members.

When starting the conversation, he was asked if it would be best to set a symbol for the past or for where the city would like to go in the future in terms of development.

“I think what we want to try to do is make the counties the way we feel best serve the community. And then we get to the map,” she said. said lamb.

Residential areas were discussed, which Lamb said were divided into city and residential lake neighborhoods.

Concerns about the lake’s residential plot sizes were discussed. Lamb noted that there was not much space on the lakes that could be developed. He said there are some on the west side of Lake Amber and some on Lake Sisseton that are owned by the city.

Councilman Randy Lupino said it appears that a lot of lakefront properties have parks. Although he said no one is likely interested in removing a park and making it a residential area, that would limit development on the land fronting the lake.

“When developing new areas, what do you want to see in that area, what character do you want in that area,” Lupino said.

Mixed-use neighborhoods are also discussed. Lamb highlighted some between Prairie Street, Lair Road, Albion Avenue, and Hall Street.

“For me, this is a very precise location in your city… that has a specific context… that has very sensitive ecological relationships,” she says. said lamb.

However, he said it was the same zoning used on State Street and suggested zoning there.

Switching gears to potential residential areas, Lamb said there are some differences between Lakefront 1, which is more than 15,000 square feet, and Lakefront 2, which is less than 15,000 square feet. He also mentioned a lakeside and lakeside area mixed use.

Lot sizes on lake property have been discussed. City planner and zoning officer Peter Boddy said smaller lots are preferred because they allow more types of uses, but noted that DNR favors many.

“If we modify any part of our zoning code that should have a relationship … with any part of the lake, the DNR not only has the right to comment on it, but they have to approve it,” he said. Bud said.

For Existing Development, Lamb said they wanted to come up with code that was more in line with what was out there.

Councilwoman Brittney Kaweki said the biggest complaint she hears is that people want to be able to understand the code and she believes the most important thing is to simplify the code so there are no more questions about it.

There was also a conversation about how to make the community and businesses along the way more walkable.

There are areas in Vermont that are very easy to walk, Lamb said, and some areas that are not. He noted that the White Tail Ridge development had docks installed in it recently.

“You have a lot of good things going on. Let’s polish the good things and make the marginal things better. There are a lot of good things about how Vermont can develop. The Chain of Lakes is a unique physical context,” said lamb.

Downtown Plaza has been discussed. Lamb described it as pedestrian-focused and oriented and said there was some development that could be done there.

The term Business flex has been used in the context of Bixby Road. The area is industrial, but also includes some homes and hotels.

“This is an area that we think could benefit from being a little bit more flexible.” said lamb.

Chris Janson with MSA shared some scenarios for companies that could operate in this space.

“Finding something that meets what the companies plan envisioned and also allows for some flexibility, we’re heading in that direction,” Janson said.

In short, Lamb said they will continue to focus on defining the city’s mixed-use district as well as working on the commercial corridor and plans for the Downtown Plaza.

“We’re going to use words that represent what that area does,” said lamb.

The next step, Lamb said, is to continue working with the staff and then return to the set for another update, hopefully by the Fourth of July.

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