Freeport amends parking, design standards

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FREEPORT — The Town Council Tuesday amended two ordinances, one dealing with parking regulations in the village area and the other with design standards on the south end of Route 1.

Council Chairwoman Sarah Tracy said the goal with the parking revision is to add clarity to the calculations for determining how many off-street parking spots are required.

Wednesday she described the amendment as more of “a technical change, not a substantive one. All we did was provide clarification in the methodology used for the amount of parking that’s needed.”

Under the new regulation all applicants must now calculate their square footage from the interior walls of each floor of their building. For instance, restaurants are required to have one customer parking space for every 150 square feet of the floor plan.

At the council’s Dec. 19 meeting, Town Planner Donna Larson said businesses will be allowed to recalculate required parking spaces with approval from town staff, particularly if they feel the changes would be beneficial.

Tracy said at this week’s meeting that the change made to the parking ordinance is just the first step in an ongoing process started by the town’s Parking Task Force last winter. She said the next item up for possible discussion would relate to shared parking.

The change made to the design standards is also meant to provide clarification and standardization, Tracy said.

The new rules would apply to the town’s Commercial 1, 3 and 4 districts and address “what we expect development to look like from all vantage points,” she said.

The original standards only addressed “how businesses would look from Route 1 and the highway. We have now articulated how they should look from various viewpoints,” Tracy said.

The changes made to the design standards are still only advisory and not a requirement, she added.

In addition, the council also voted to relax the rules around the number of overhead doors any one use is allowed to have.

That’s because when the rules were developed in the late 1990s retail development was expected to expand along Route 1 south, however the development trend has been more toward manufacturing, boat sales, and storage.

“We relaxed (the regulation) a little bit in a recognition that times are changed and development there functionally requires more overhead doors,” Tracy said Wednesday.

More than one door will now be allowed under certain circumstances and as long as the other doors are buffered with landscaping.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.