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Land use changes are being proposed as part of an update to the Town’s General Plan. The General Plan sets forth a vision for future growth and development of the community. In certain areas of town - mostly along Old Redwood Highway, Shiloh Road (east of Highway 101), and the northern and eastern edges of town – the General Plan envisions changes to the current uses in these areas. The envisioned changes are based on input received from the community over the course of the past three years during a series of workshops and public hearings that focused on the General Plan update. The land use changes being proposed will serve to guide new development in these areas towards the uses that the General Plan envisions for the future.
The General Plan is the Town’s long-term blueprint or “constitution” for future growth and development. The General Plan represents the community’s vision for its future. This vision is expressed in narrative form with goals, policies and programs that address a wide range of topics, including land use, transportation, housing, public services and facilities, parks and recreation, economic development, environmental resources, conservation, noise, open space and safety. The General Plan provides a basis for land use decision-making and capital investments in public facilities and infrastructure. California state law requires each city and county to adopt a General Plan.
The Town of Windsor adopted its current General Plan in 1996. Since that time the Town has grown and changed. When the last General Plan was adopted, the internet was not widely used and the youngest members of today’s workforce had not yet been born. New laws have passed that affect general plans and new planning strategies have been developed. These changes require a reevaluation of the existing General Plan and confirmation of the vision for Windsor. The updated General Plan will look ahead to the year 2040, so the update will not only bring policies and programs up to date, but also position Windsor for the next 22 years.
The proposed update to the Town’s General Plan can be viewed/downloaded from: http://www.windsor2040.com/documents/
State law requires the General Plan to identify the location, type and intensity of land uses allowed within the area over which the Town has jurisdiction. This is done by designating every property in Town with a specific “land use designation.” The land use designation identifies the general type of use (e.g., residential, commercial, industrial) and the intensity of the use. For residential uses, intensity is stated in terms of dwelling units per acre. For non-residential uses, intensity is stated in terms of a ratio of building floor area to property size (“Floor Area Ratio” or “FAR”).
A table describing each of the land use designations in the current General Plan and the equivalent designation being proposed in the updated General Plan can be accessed from this link Land Use Comparison Table. Maps showing the location of each land use designation in the current and proposed General Plan can be accessed from this link Maps
As part of the General Plan update the name of some Land Use Designations are being updated and/or the intensity of allowable development is being adjusted, but the type and physical character of the use will generally remain the same. For example, there are many properties with a current General Plan Land Use Designation of “Medium-High Density Residential (8 to 12 dwelling units per acre)” that are being changed to “Medium Density Residential (8 to 16 dwelling units per acre).” In this example, the change is largely a technical change and will not result in a significant change to the type of uses or physical character of development in areas with this designation. While the change is not considered significant, State law still requires the Town to send notification of any change to the land use designation.
The Town’s General Plan includes areas within town limits and unincorporated county areas that are outside of town limits but within the Town’s Urban Growth Boundary. It is presumed that during the next 20 years properties located outside of town limits but within the Town’s Urban Growth Boundary could be annexed into the town. To ensure that these properties develop in a manner that is consistent with established land use patterns and the Town’s vision for the future, the Town’s General Plan identifies an appropriate land use designation to guide their future development if and when they are annexed into the town. The Town’s General Plan Land Use Designation will only apply to the use of your property if it is annexed in the future. Until such a time, the use of your property will continue to be regulated by the County of Sonoma.
The General Plan Land Use Designation regulates how your property is used – in terms of the general type of use and the intensity of the use. For example, if your property is designated for residential use by the General Plan, you can only use your property for residential purposes. You could not have a grocery store or an office building on your property.
The General Plan Land Use Designation also establishes the intensity of use. For residential developments, the intensity of use is regulated by an allowed density range (minimum and maximum) that is measured in terms of “housing units per acre.” Density is calculated by dividing the number of housing units on the site by the gross acreage of the site. Most residential neighborhoods in Windsor have a density range between 3 and 8 units per acre. Apartments and townhomes are located in areas that have a higher allowable density range (e.g. 16 to 32 units per acre).
For commercial and industrial developments, intensity is measured in terms of Floor Area Ratio (FAR). FAR refers to the ratio of building floor space compared to the square footage of the site. FAR is calculated by dividing the floor area of all buildings on the site by the total square footage of the site. For example, a 12,500 square foot building on a 25,000 square foot site has an FAR of 0.5.
A graphic example of how density and FAR are measured can be viewed from this link Density and Intensity Table.
A table describing each of the land use designations in the General Plan, including the type and intensity of uses allowed under each designation can be accessed from this link Land Use Comparison Table.
The General Plan sets forth long-term policies that guide future development. The Zoning Ordinance implements General Plan policies through the established detailed development regulations (see Zoning Designation response below). Although the purpose and intent of zoning is different from the General Plan, State law requires that zoning be consistent with maps and policies in the General Plan.
A table showing the Zoning Designation that implements the General Plan Land Use Designations proposed by the update to the Town’s General Plan can be accessed from this link Zoning Implementation Table.
The Town’s Zoning Ordinance can be viewed/downloaded from: https://www.townofwindsor.com/DocumentCenter/View/15921
Like General Plan Land Use Designations, each property within the Town has a Zoning District designation. Zoning Districts identify specific types of uses allowed in the district as well as building standards and permitting procedures. Zoning Districts are a tool for implementing the General Plan Land Use Designation and must be consistent with the General Plan Land Use Designation in terms of the types and intensities of uses allowed in the district. For example, if your property has a General Plan Land Use Designation of Residential - 5 to 8 dwelling units per acre, your property would be “zoned” with a Zoning District that allows for residential uses with building and development standards that accommodate development at a range of 5 to 8 units per acre.
A table listing each of the Zoning District designations in the Town’s Zoning Ordinance and the corresponding General Plan Land Use Designation that it implements can be accessed from this link Zoning District Descriptions.
A map of Zoning Districts within the Town can be viewed/downloaded from the following link: /DocumentCenter/View/22059/Zoning-Map-2019-01-30
No. As part of the General Plan Update, staff and the consultant team proposed to update the land use designations in the General Plan to reduce the number of designations and to make them more consistent with current naming conventions. As part of this, the “Mobile Home Park” designation was initially proposed to be combined with the “Medium Density Residential” designation (which would have included mobile home parks). This proposal caused a significant amount of concern among mobile home park residents. One major concern is that changing the designation would make it easier for mobile home park owners to close or convert the park to another use.
While staff believes that adequate State regulations are in place to address potential closure or conversion of a mobile home park to another use, it is recognized that having a specific Mobile Home Park land use designation could provide an added layer of protection. In response to the level of concern expressed by mobile home park residents, and because the change was being proposed for administrative purposes rather than a policy-driven matter, staff is recommending that the Mobile Home Park General Plan Land Use Designation not be changed and retained in the 2040 General Plan and applied to all existing mobile home parks.
Additional questions about the proposed land use changes, the General Plan update program or the Zoning Ordinance should be directed to the Community Development Department. Department staff can be reached by phone at (707) 838-1021 or can be visited in person at Town Hall, 9291 Old Redwood Highway, Building 400, Monday through Thursday between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
There are two ways to provide comments to the Planning Commission: attend the Planning Commission meeting and speak during the public hearing, and/or provide written comments in advance of the meeting. Information on the public hearing for the General Plan Update, which will include consideration of the proposed land use changes, is provided below:
HearingDate/Time: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.Location: Town Council Chambers, 9291 Old Redwood Hwy, Building 400.
If you are unable to attend the Planning Commission meeting, you may submit your comments in writing in advance of the public hearing to the attention of:
Sheila Wolski, Community Development TechnicianTown of WindsorPlanning DivisionP.O. Box 100Windsor, CA 95492
Planning Commission meeting agendas, including staff reports and other meeting materials can be accessed from the following link: https://www.townofwindsor.com/721/Agendas-Minutes-Videos
The Town of Windsor Town Council will make the final decision on the proposed land use changes as part of their decision on whether to adopt the updated General Plan. A public hearing before the Town Council on the General Plan update has been tentatively scheduled for April 4, 2018. At this meeting, the Town Council will consider the recommendations made by the Planning Commission, Town staff and consultant team, and input received from the public.
Town Council meeting agendas, including staff reports and other meeting materials can be accessed from the following link: https://www.townofwindsor.com/721/Agendas-Minutes-Videos