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BOONE – A draft of new Unified Development Ordinance language that would phase out nonconformities in low-density, single-family neighborhoods will be heard by the Boone Town Council on Tuesday, April 16.

“The phase-out period would be three years for buildings originally constructed as single-family dwellings or accessory dwellings, and 20 years for buildings originally constructed as multi-family (duplexes, triplexes, small apartment buildings),” town attorney Allison Meade states in meeting materials.

The phase-out periods would end on Jan. 1, 2023, and 2040, respectively.

The ordinance changes would have to go to a public hearing and be considered by the Boone Planning Commission before final consideration by the town council, as confirmed by Town Manager John Ward on April 15.

At the meeting Tuesday, Ward said the discussion will be to further define the ordinance language and pick a public hearing timeframe or to ask for revisions to be re-heard at a later date. 

Meade said if council moves forward, the earliest public hearing for changes the council would be in May. 

The proposed amortization program is already attracting interest and concerns.

"We've been contacted by multiple people who plan on speaking during public comment tomorrow," Ward said on April 15.

In the meeting materials, Meade said that while the regulation should prevail if challenged in court based on state court precedent, “based upon communications I have had or of which I have been informed,” a court challenge would be likely if passed. Meade also stated that the legal environment is trending toward private property rights and against zoning and other government regulations.

The discussion comes after the council decided unanimously to direct Meade to prepare a potential ordinance for R-1 Single Family Residential, R-1A Single-Family Residential with Accessory Dwelling and RR Residential Rehabilitation zoning districts.

R-2 Two-Family Residential and R-A Residential/Agricultural districts were included as a potential addition.

In the town of Boone, the aforementioned zoning districts are low-density residential areas, with no more than two unrelated persons allowed to live in a single-family residence in those areas, according to occupancy guidelines.

The draft proposed that some appeals go to the Boone Board of Adjustment and some to Boone Town Council. The BOA would hear appeals of technical determinations by the Boone Planning and Inspections Department and the council would hear petitions from owners seeking a longer amortization period.

Alternate solutions would be easier to defend in court, according to Meade. One would be to allow nonconformities that were legal when they were built, with Meade noting that “all or almost all” of the specific objections to amortization are made by citizens relating to legal nonconformities. Another would be to only phase out recent nonlegal nonconformities while exempting ones that owners can prove have been continuous for 10 or 20 years.

Stronger nuisance regulations aimed at “problem houses” is another potential alternate solution and will be discussed at the April 16 meeting.

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