Indian Head council makes zoning ordinance recommendations
The Indian Head Planning Commis- sion is in the process of reviewing the town’s zoning ordinance and are seeking recommendations from the town coun- cil. According to Mayor Brandon Paulin, the council agreed to discuss the list of recommendations at Januar y’s work ses- sion before moving it forward to the plan- ning commission.
“Based on the [zoning ordinance] draft that we have, my recommendations would be — allowing food trucks with proper permitting and change Ely Prop- erty [and similar vacant properties in the town] zoning to TCMX (Town Center Mixed Use) that is based off of the [Ur- ban Land Institute] Study recommendation,” Paulin said.
In the existing zoning for residential, commercial, mixed use and recreation uses, TCMX is intended to promote a mixture of multi-family residential and commercial uses, to promote and en- hance a pedestrian-oriented develop- ment and permit a mix of uses that can be found in a traditional town center or neighborhood setting.
Paulin also recommended that the planning commission include language in the town’s zoning ordinance about food trucks since it is now in the Charles County zoning code as of 2016. Vice Mayor Ron Sitoula agreed. “In regards to the TCMX zoning suggestion from the ULI Study, I just don’t want the property owners to say that they won’t sell this property until it becomes TCMX — with a bunch of housing only. Eventually we will need that TCMX zon- ing. There is no way around that down the road, but we just don’t want the town to be held hostage by the [property] owners,” Sitoula said.
Councilman Curtis Smith said during the land development approval process the planning commission would have to be very strict with property owners and developers adhering to TCMX zoning standards.
“There have been a few TCMX projects in the town that have been total residential projects and not truly TCMX zoned. If [the planning commission] holds firm and makes TCMX what is designed to be, then we’re covering what [Sitoula’s] fear is,” said Town Manager Ryan Hicks.
Sitoula said the planning commission have also not defined what the TCMX standards should be, which is the only thing holding him back from agreeing with the TCMX zoning ordinance recommendation for properties within the town.
“Many [developers and property owners] suggested building 70-100 units, and then only used 2 percent of the property for business. We want to be able to say 40-60 percent should be for [commercial]. Let’s come up with a plan and definition and strictly hold them accountable for that,” Sitoula said.
The council agreed, also discussing the possibility of creating a citizen survey for the residents. The idea stemmed from the Town of La Plata citizen survey provided by the National Citizen Survey. The survey provided the opinions of approximately 369 La Plata residents and conveyed which topics are the most important focus areas for the community.
“The mayor of La Plata [Roy G. Hale] recently discussed the citizen survey that they have been doing every two years,” Sitoula said. “I think it’s an excellent idea to make sure that every two years we check to see how things are to the [Indian Head] residents. There are a fixed amount of seven to eight questions in the free survey, but it may not be a bad idea to let the public have that survey. It is something that we can pursue as a town.”