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After revisions, Camden ready to adopt chief planning document

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Dan Porter, Camden County's director of planning and community development, reviews requirements in Camden's unified development ordinance with the county Board of Commissioners, Wednesday.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, December 17, 2018

CAMDEN — Camden County officials have resolved a few lingering issues in the comprehensive revision of the county’s chief planning document and will consider adopting the revised unified development ordinance in February.

At a meeting last week, the Camden Board of Commissioners discussed some remaining concerns about commercial design standards, landscaping standards and sign standards.

The board reached consensus on all the issues and asked county staff to provide a complete copy of the ordinance as revised in January, with the understanding that the board would consider adoption of the UDO at its first meeting in February.

Regarding commercial design standards, Camden is borrowing language from Currituck County’s UDO stating that “outbuildings located in front of other buildings within the same development shall include a consistent level of architectural detail on all four sides of the building as well as exterior materials and colors that are compatible with the primary building in the development.”

The county also is amending the building facade design standards so that they apply to all facades visible from public streets, not just those directly fronting a public street. That change is intended to improve the appearance of commercial buildings.

In revising the landscaping standards, all requirements that mentioned “canopy trees” have been changed to simply “trees.”

For landscaping standards that mention shrubbery, the county is removing a requirement that the shrubs have a minimum height or spread at the time of planting. The requirement is now simply that shrubs be a three-gallon size.

Commissioners agreed that it was important to keep requirements for plant species diversity. When fewer than 20 trees are required on a site there must be at least two different species planted. The requirement increases to three different species if 21-39 trees are required on a site and four different species if 40 or more trees are required.

The language in the ordinance has been clarified to indicate that each row of 12 parking spaces in a parking lot (or 24 if double stacked) requires planting islands. The size required for planting islands has been reduced from 162 square feet to 100 square feet, and the requirement now is to plant trees, without an alternative for planting shrubbery.

Some commissioners mentioned they were concerned about safety issues related to shrubbery. Shrubs can provide hiding places for muggers, they noted.

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