Aberdeen Town Board approves UDO amendment to protect nonconformities

58 downtown buildings to be lit up for Christmas 

ABERDEEN — The Town of Aberdeen Board met Monday, October 24, where they held two public hearings for text amendments and received updates on various town projects.

The board held two public hearings, with the first being for a text amendment submitted by Hawthorne Residential Partners to amend the UDO Chapter 8 – Nonconformities to create non-conforming density standards for multi-family developments.

“In our UDO, previously approved multi-dwelling use type projects that exceed current density standards currently have no protections if they were to have a catastrophic event,” said Planner Danielle Orloff. “So this request was to rewrite chapter 8, the nonconformity section, to address those issues. It spoke directly to specifying the types of catastrophic damages, the percentages that would allow certain either rebuilds or total rebuilds, and the applicant was requesting that multi-family use types that exceed current density now be protected should a total loss affect the property.”

Following the hearing, the board approved the amendment.

The second hearing the board held was for a text amendment submitted by Kelly Ojeda to amend Section 4.5.3.F.3 – Standards for Specific Temporary Uses, to increase the allowable number of Temporary Construction Dwellings for residential construction for parcels of ten acres or more.

“Currently, our existing ordinance only allows for one temporary dwelling for construction-related purposes, and they are specifically regulated, which includes provisions for the allowed number of occupants, location, and an expiration of a temporary dwelling after construction,” Orloff said. “The proposed text amendment is asking for an increase up to two temporary dwellings that may be used to house occupants of the principal dwelling under construction or subject to repair or casualty damage, on parcels 10 acres or larger.”

However, the Town’s Planning Board voted 7-0 in favor of the denial of the request as they viewed the amendment as unnecessary and potentially damaging to the Town’s environment and image.

“Basically, there’s a 10-acre lot, and as we’ve observed for several months, there were and have been several trailers out there that people were living in,” said Town Manager Paul Sabiston. “It became apparent that that was not acceptable or allowed, and then under the guise of making it construction trailers, they filed this text amendment to allow more than just one trailer. So in my mind, it had nothing to do with legit construction trailers, it was just to have another living space indefinitely, and so there were a lot of ways to manipulate the amendment.”

The applicant did not show up for comment, and following the hearing, the board voted to deny the amendment.

The Aberdeen Town Board was also given updates on various town projects starting with the construction of the second fire station.

“Fire Station Number Two is really close to where the chief wants it to be,” Sabiston said. “I don’t think we have any firm date for an open house yet, but I know we’ve talked about as early as November or early December. If I had to put a number on it, it might be 95% completed. It’s really close. We’re hoping to have something here in the near future, maybe an afternoon where people can walk through and so the public can see what we’ve done on it.”

Sabiston also gave an update regarding some of the next steps for the Aberdeen Library Project.

“We’ve got a bid on securing and redoing the windows that are already there and really just making sure the wood’s not rotten, maybe replacing the panes in some of those windows and just getting those windows up to speed,” Sabiston said. “We’ve got the price for that, and we’re looking for another one, and the price is from a local group, so we’d like to use them if possible, but we’re looking for one more price just to balance it out, because we like to have at least two or more. We feel like the price we got is probably going to be our best price, but we don’t know yet.”

The first quote that the Town received for the window work was in the $18,000 range and has already been funded in the project budget, according to Sabiston.

“Down the road, the next big structural thing will be in the basement and shoring up the piers,” Sabiston said. “ I think everyone’s kind of on the same page that it really needs to be done to help that basement be shored up and just making sure that that basement will stay relatively dry going forward. Another step, which we are working on at the same time, is just making sure the structural integrity under the roof on those supports is good. Most look at that and think it’s good, but we think we want to go ahead and take a look and get that certified just to make sure it’s good.”

Outside of those, the other areas of work that Sabiston stated was checking the quality of the bricks on the building and potentially repointing them.

The board was also presented with an update on the plan for the downtown Christmas lights.

“I’m excited to announce we will be lighting 58 buildings this year,” said Downtown Planner Lisa Brosnan. “They will follow roughly the same footprint as they did last year with just a few exceptions.”

According to Brosnan, the plan is to light the lights starting November 1.

“We also came in a little under budget,” Brosnan said. “We had budgeted $14,000 for this from the Downtown Development Budget and it came out to, our latest quote is $13,117. It might change slightly, but we think that’s where we’re at right now, and that reflects a 10% discount we’ve received for a multi-year contract.”

The Aberdeen Town Board’s next meeting will take place November 28.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal

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