14. Suggested Design Guidelines for Pine Barrens Credit Use Areas


14.1 Introduction

The use or redemption of Pine Barrens Credits may occur generally in three ways: designated receiving districts, residential overlay districts (ROD) and planned development districts (PDD). In order to ensure that the use of Pine Barrens Credits is done in a manner that protects and improves the character of existing communities in the compatible growth area and outside the Central Pine Barrens, towns should consider the creation of design guidelines. Towards this end, a discussion of the differences between the types of possible receiving districts is presented, followed by a sampling of guidelines.
 
 
14.2 Residential Overlay Districts/Designated Receiving Districts

The purpose of designating residential overlay districts is to utilize existing zoning and land use patterns to achieve a marginal increase in density over a broad area. Residential overlay districts will primarily occur in existing single family zoning districts, hence design guidelines for these districts would be limited to single family residential development. The use of designated receiving districts could also be for the purposes of residential development. However, these areas may also include lands zoned for commercial, industrial or other uses. Hence, as these are not determined at this time, design guidelines could correspond to those specific uses, as designated.

The following factors influence the physical layout of single family residential development and associated infrastructure. Hence, these guidelines will help applied, accomplish the marginal increases in density without undesirable changes in neighborhood character.

14.2.1 Roads

Subdivision roads should be designed to foster community interaction, protect natural vegetation and allow the opportunity for natural drainage:

The right-of-way (ROW) width of subdivision roads should be 50 feet and could include a pavement width no greater than 24 feet. The remaining ROW area should provide ample and safe pedestrian and bicycle circulation with connections to the surrounding community.

Road ROW should be selectively cleared only as necessary to provide pedestrian paths and in so doing, could be designed to preserve trees larger than 12 inches in caliper.

Roadway centerlines should follow area highpoints or natural topography to foster natural drainage and reduce cutting and filling to minimize clearing of road edges.

Provide curbing only where natural drainage is impractical and have flexible top coat standards to allow for alternative (porous) materials where appropriate.

Bury utilities underground if possible.

14.2.2 Open Space

Open space within a subdivision should aim to protect the natural resources of a site and maintain them in large, unfragmented tracts. Furthermore, on individual lots, portions should be maintained in their natural state and should connect with larger, common open space areas of the site and provide open space connections to surrounding areas. Open space should also provide a variety of recreational opportunities depending on ecological sensitivity.

All open space within a subdivision should be physically connected with the amount of open space to be determined by the quality and quantity of ecological sensitivity of a given site.

Clearing on individual lots should be limited to those areas that are necessary for development and in so doing should be designed to protect all trees greater than 24 inches in caliper and protect slopes greater than 10%. Where this is not possible, clearing limits should be imposed with the amount to be determined based on ecological sensitivity of a given site.

14.2.3 Common Drives/Utility Corridors

To reduce land area dedicated to paved vehicular use and costs associated with this, coordinate residential driveways for general access off the collector roads. This reduces curb cuts and the suburbanization of roadways. Also, these common rights-of-way could be used to coordinate utility access to a given lot. Random and varied utility access results in excessive site clearing and less efficient use of valuable land area.

All lots should have access from a common drive with a minimum of two lots per drive and should not exceed 12 feet in width. A cleared area, possibly 2-3 feet on each side should be provided for all utility lines. It should be designed to protect individual trees greater than 12 inches in caliper. Required paving materials should be based on site conditions, however porous materials and a design that allows for natural drainage are encouraged.

14.2.4 Drainage/Recharge Areas

Presently in subdivision codes, recharge areas encompass large land areas based on the drainage design criteria and layout specifications. These should be reviewed to correspond more closely with the actual site specific conditions. It is possible to redesign such areas to allow more natural drainage patterns, minimize clearing in and around retention and storage areas, reduce size requirements based on soil conditions and generally use less space while comprising an aesthetic open space element.

Drainage design should correspond to a given site's soil and topographic conditions and should be designed to minimize clearing of native vegetation and excessive site grading. Natural drainage utilizing area lowpoints, swales and similar features are encouraged.

14.2.5 Siting of Buildings/Setbacks

Presently, setback requirements and minimum lot widths play a major role in the actual location of buildings and other site elements, leaving an amount of "leftover" or under utilized land. Setbacks should be designed to foster community interaction and provide more efficient use of individual lots.

Subdivision layout should be based on traditional Long Island settlement patterns, therefore the maximum front yard setbacks should be 30 feet. An ideal village street corridor, measured between opposing house facades, is a width that does not exceed three times the height of the structures. With 50 foot road ROW, 30 foot setbacks are optimum for fostering social interaction and sense of community. If desired, the same setbacks as the underlying zoning could also be used.

Setback requirements should be set according to the particular site conditions and incorporate elements of ecological sensitivity if necessary. By adjusting setback requirements to reflect the current conditions of the lot ecologically sensitive features, such as a mature stand of trees, can be preserved.
 
 
14.3 Planned Development Districts

The purpose of designating an area as a planned development district (PDD) for the use of Pine Barrens Credits is to utilize an alternative zoning and land use pattern which achieves an overall, coordinated design, resulting in a more comprehensive plan for a given area. Planned development districts can successfully mix land uses, creating or enhancing a "village" type setting with a distinct center, or utilize an existing hamlet center where people can live, work, play, shop and worship. The benefits of such a district include reduced infrastructure costs, reduced automobile trips and a stronger sense of community.

14.3.1 Land Use/Permitted Uses

Standards for land use could be segmented according to activities, i.e., civic uses, residential, retail, etc., each with their own "intent." The types of land uses permitted within a given planned development district will vary in every case based on the location of the proposal within the town, the surrounding land uses, the environmental suitability, marketing analysis and community participation.

Permitted land uses within a given PDD should respond to these factors and also serve to meet the overall goals of the town's comprehensive plan. The following is a sample of guidelines for one type of permitted use only. All potential uses should have use specific guidelines, however these will vary.

Civic Uses. Foster and encourage uses that improve the sense of community, service localized needs and reinforce the center.

Civic land uses should comprise 20% of the land area within a given PDD, located within or adjacent to a public square or on a lot terminating a street vista, so as to have direct access from all use areas. These uses include: meeting halls, post offices, day care facilities, schools, clubhouses, religious buildings, recreational facilities, museums, cultural societies, visual and performing arts buildings, municipal buildings and others by special exception.

14.3.2 Community Participation

An important component of the planning process for a planned development district is the involvement of local citizens. This is essential to ensure the plan meets the needs of the community and therefore is accepted, thus creating a successful plan.

Members of the community should be informed of the planning process for a planned development district prior to the preparation of final plans and shall have the opportunity to participate in the planning.

14.3.3 Fiscal Impacts

A planned development district should not have a negative impact on special districts within the community and should not cause undue or unreasonable growth in any given area.

All development within the PDD should be balanced so that uses that provide tax rateables will be in proportion to units that generate school age children. The developer should be responsible for formulating and demonstrating a plan for balancing tax revenue with expenditures.

Construction of PDD's should be phased in such a manner so as to prevent accelerated growth or negative fiscal impacts in the short term (1-5 years) and to promote balanced growth and positive fiscal impacts during construction and for the life of the project.

14.3.4 Streets

Streets should be designed as part of the public space and should accommodate the pedestrian equitably with the automobile. Street widths will vary depending on the use within the PDD. The following is a sample of a street containing retail uses.

Streets bordered by lots containing retail uses should have a maximum ROW of 64 feet consisting of two 12 foot travel lanes, 8 foot parallel parking on both sides and sidewalks 12 feet wide.

14.3.5 Parking

Vehicular use areas should be aesthetic components of the PDD and provide coordinated access between use areas as well as provide ample pedestrian circulation.

Parking requirements may be reduced if it is shown to be unnecessary based on peak usage.

At least 75% of the off-street parking spaces should be to the rear of the building. However, primary access should be from the front.

Parking should be designed and located to facilitate "shared parking" in which spaces accommodate peak usage at different timing of day.

14.3.6 Open space

Open space could be designed to protect natural resources and provide for active and passive recreation areas. This would allow for the incorporation of public squares and plazas to enhance the civic realm and provide greater security.

All ecologically sensitive areas should be preserved and buffered as necessary. In addition, a minimum of 30% of the site should be for active, strategically located public spaces.

Ecologically sensitive areas could be incorporated into a contiguous greenspace in and around the development with pedestrian connections where applicable.

14.3.7 Buildings/Setbacks

These may need to be segmented according to uses. The following is for retail uses only.

Allow buildings to create and define the street ROW, thereby lending character to the public realm.

Retail use buildings should have their facade built directly along the frontage line for at least 60% of the block length.

Retail use buildings should have no setback on one side lot line.

14.3.8 General Factors

The following factors should be considered as general criteria for evaluating all development:

14.3.8.1 Architecture

The design for a planned development district or new development in a designated residential overlay district should take the opportunity to create a unified architectural character without becoming too repetitive. Recognition of a certain style that has been established and accepted within any given area will aid in blending new development with existing. Building heights, materials and rooflines are components that determine the quality of the built form and should have specific guidelines. The following factors are also relative when considering architecture:

Scale and Proportion is the size of one architectural element relative to another or to its surroundings. Older, historical buildings on Long Island appear smaller because they were built to human scale and were expanded incrementally. Additionally, large structures were buffered by mature trees or were nestled into the landscape making them appear smaller. Nearby structures were built in proportion to one another.

Massing is a building's height, bulk, shape and roof angle. Traditional Long Island structures were composed of a primary mass, expanded by later addition of various smaller masses. The mass of a given structure can be treated in many different ways so that even though two buildings may have the same square footage, one may actually "appear" smaller based on the layout of the footprint. Hence the layout of a building footprint plays a major role in how "massive" a building appears. Traditional rooflines were primarily gable and shed. New buildings should reflect the local architectural character.

Fenestration is the amount, pattern, size and placement of windows, doors or other openings on the building facade. These play an important role in unifying new structures with existing buildings.

Siting is the orientation and placement of buildings, as well as other site features, and should respect the natural landscape. The siting of a building should respect the horizon line. Buildings sited at the tops of localized highpoints dominate the landscape, interrupting an otherwise open, natural vista. Sites containing highpoints should be developed near the middle or bottom of slopes utilizing natural vegetation as a buffer. Furthermore, the natural topography should be further respected and used to nestle buildings into the landscape. Reducing cut and fill will minimize clearing and prevent erosion and sedimentation.

14.3.8.2 Signage

Signage is a significant design element, affecting the visual quality and therefore the viability of commercial activity, as well as the directional needs of cars and people. Signs can either add or detract from the community image. Signs not only enhance or define the architecture, but support the intended function of the business being advertised. The quality of signage, material, color, size, and placement are the owner's personal signature.

To promote positive visual qualities in new development districts, sign laws should consider the following:

Using the smallest and least number of signs, since a small, simple, well-located sign is likely to be more effective than an improperly located large sign with excessive information.

Building signs should complement the scale and style of architecture through accentuated placement either flush with the building (above first floor windows or on existing lintel above door) or projected perpendicular to the building wall in the appropriate location.

Coordinate signs for a given area to reduce the overall mix of sizes, colors, and styles.

Reduce the height of free-standing signs and place at eye level with a surrounding vegetative "anchor;" and

Incorporate materials, colors and textures that are compatible with building materials and are aesthetically accepted.

14.3.8.3 Lighting

Outdoor lighting has a significant impact on the safety, security and visual quality of a development and the community. During the day, lighting fixtures are part of the visual character of the site design. At night, if not carefully designed, outdoor lighting can be a major intrusion upon adjacent properties and regional vistas. Lighting should accomplish the function of providing public safety, security and energy conservation while utilizing fixtures that complement the character of the area.

Designed properly, lighting should:

Not illuminate areas off-site or beyond the limit of safety.

Utilize posts and fixtures that are in scale and proportion to the area being illuminated.

Be of an attractive, indigenous style that blends with architecture and other site features; and

Be used to accent or highlight special elements of the site or building.

14.3.8.4 Landscape

Vegetation plays an important role in the sense of place of a given area. Negative public to new development is often a response to either hard edges and inadequate landscaping or excessive clearing of site vegetation. Mature, native landscapes are irreplaceable and therefore, proper landscape planning should begin by minimizing clearing and disturbance of existing vegetation. If possible developers should transplant or reuse as much onsite vegetation as possible. Native species require less maintenance, water and fertilizer, and provide an appropriate habitat for local wildlife. Where non-native plantings may be necessary, select species that visually blend with existing vegetation. Maintaining existing vegetation reduces clearing and restoration costs and helps to integrate new development more successfully into the landscape.