PWCA has been fighting to protect buffers and trees. In June 2016 the BOCS initiated a process to revise buffer standards at the request of the Commercial Development Committee (CDC), which has benefited from more than a year of dialogue with staff and elected officials.
Constituents and civic groups were excluded from the discussion until the October 2017 BOCS meeting, when PWCA raised the red flag. We organized speakers at the public hearing and the BOCS deferred their vote on the proposed changes and directed staff to conduct public meetings.
As a result of these public meetings, developers and community groups negotiated an agreement to exclude all infrastructure from placement within a buffer, maintaining the definition of a buffer as a strip of land filled with vegetation from one side to the other.
In addition, developers and community groups agreed to streamline the process to reduce the buffer by 25% for vegetated stormwater infrastructure on "small" commercial properties (three acres or less).
The Planning Office published a draft documenting these changes in December 2017. However, the draft published for the BOCS vote on January 16 includes more changes. It appears someone is trying to modify the agreement without a good-faith notification to community groups.
The new changes would also allow a 25% buffer reduction for utility easements, in addition to the negotiated reduction for vegetated stormwater infrastructure. Since the proposal to revise standards for “small” properties is apparently still open to changes, PWCA and local civic groups recommend the BOCS:
Remove all text granting by-right approval for a 25% buffer reduction for utility easements,
Establish a process that includes all stakeholders, not just those that are development related,
Establish an inclusive working group to identify opportunities to better protect green infrastructure to improve the County's capacity to attract high quality commercial development and
Revise waiver processes to include a public notice requirement.
You can see us at work on Jan 16 when civic groups join together to protect green buffers. Please join us and share your views or email Supervisors in advance. Click here to view the civic groups joint comments sent to Supervisors.