FOLEY — New development permits will be postponed for about two months while Foley officials prepare new regulations.The Foley City Council is scheduled to vote Monday, June 6 on final approval …
FOLEY — New development permits will be postponed for about two months while Foley officials prepare new regulations.
The Foley City Council is scheduled to vote Monday, June 6 on final approval for an ordinance to update land development. On Monday, May 16, the council voted to enact an immediate moratorium on land disturbances until the new ordinance goes into effect. Leslie Gahagan, city environmental director, said the moratorium will keep developers from applying for permits under regulations that are about to become out of date.
"In order to avoid an influx of people trying to follow the old rules and submit all their projects, we're asking for a moratorium on land disturbance permits until these new rules come into effect," she told council members.
Gahagan said the new ordinance consolidates and updates regulations on development.
"This has got all the traffic requirements, all the engineering," she said. "It's got all of our permitting requirements, statutes on land-disturbance permits so that they have expiration dates as well as enforcement mechanisms. We've got a lot of new updated standards including a 25-acre maximum disturbance allowance, any greenspace requirements, tree protection credit. So, there's been a lot of work going into this."
Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the changes will help Foley prepare for upcoming growth and changes.
"We feel like this will go a long way toward helping us and whatever occurs in the future, next year, economically, we'll be prepared for it," he said
Hellmich said the updates will resolve problems that have been going on for a long time.
"We keep having a recurring problem with the same thing over and over," Hellmich said. "We go out and address it and we think that this will help us make sure that we don't have recurring problems of the same sort. It gives us a little bit more teeth in there and I think that it's something we've been working on a long time. Having ordinances and regulations, it's a constantly evolving process with the markets changing, demands change and we change with it."
Hellmich said the new regulations will also help builders.
"It's actually streamlined for the contractors and developers so that it will be more clearly stated what their responsibilities are," he said.
Hellmich said he expected the moratorium to last for two or three months.
"The last time we went through the process with the planning commission, changing this, it took about 2 ½ months," Hellmich said. "During that time, we had quite a few people run at the city of Foley and so, this time to avoid that with these major changes, it's going to be a temporary moratorium on that."
Hellmich said applications that were filed before the moratorium will continue to be processed. He said developers who want to apply under the new guidelines can also file for a permit.
"If someone has a project that will coming to us shortly, if they want to submit and adhere to the new rules, we will allow that, because that's our goal is to move everybody to the new guidelines," Hellmich said.
"We've already seen a 25% reduction in homebuilding this year," Hellmich said. "However, the valuations of the homes are more expensive. That's inflation, building products and the homes are just bigger homes. We've got a one-third increase in the valuation of the homes being built."