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High-density residential could replace open space

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By Katy Korkos

The planning and zoning commission took another step to prepare for the Trinity Site development when it approved a zoning change at Wednesday evening’s meeting. The change affects parcel A-8, a 24-plus acre parcel which lies between Los Alamos Canyon and D.P. Road.The property is slated for development as part of the Boyer Company’s overall proposal to bring retail, affordable housing, and single-family homes to Los Alamos. The area that was rezoned Wednesday will hold single family homes on the eastern end of the property and apartments on the western end.After the zoning change is approved by council, the new zoning, called R-3-H-40 (multiple family residential-very high density) will allow for high-density residential uses, with up to 43.6 housing units per acre per lot and a maximum allowable height of 50 feet.Community Development Director Rick Bohn acted as both staff and applicant for the county at Wednesday’s quasi-judicial hearing. Bohn described the thought process behind choosing the high-density zoning designation over the R-3-H, which has a 35-foot height limit and 21.8 unit per acre per lot allowance. Bohn said that 35 feet accommodates a three-story building, but that the 50-foot height limit would allow for parking to be built underneathBohn said Boyer’s current proposal shows 12 dwelling units per gross acre overall. He added that the zoning change did not mean that the Boyer Company could build the maximum allowable units on the site.“Each one of the site plans will come back to planning and zoning for approval,” Bohn said. “In addition to the site plan approval, the development agreement is subject to approval by council.” He added that the county will be the owner of the property, and could put additional restrictions on building.After Bohn described how the zoning change would meet the criteria required for approval, the commissioners were given a chance to ask questions of Bohn, Assistant County Administrator Tony Mortillaro and Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman.Commissioner Ann Wadstrom asked who would pay for utilities infrastructure to the new development, and was told by Mortillaro that the developer agreement would address that, and the county would pay for infrastructure like sewer and water lines not directly for use by the developer. “In this case, the developer will pay for on-site, and may pay for off-site utility development. The mix is still to be determined,” Mortillaro said.“Will the development agreement call for the housing partners to be able to sell off individual lots?” Commissioner Patrick Sullivan asked.“We anticipate that the partners will be single developers,” Mortillaro said.Commission chair David Israelevitz asked how road access would be provided to a large residential complex, and how those residents would be able to get in and out with only one access. Zimmerman said that the public works department would ensure that adequate access was provided for.“We’re not going to allow road widths to drop,” Zimmerman said. Mortillaro said that many of Los Alamos’ residential developments had only one entrance point, citing Ponderosa, Canyon Glen and Barranca Mesa. “This is the topography we’re blessed with,” Mortillaro said. “The topography here is more forgiving,” Bohn said, “There are connections to the canyon (where an access road along the canyon rim is proposed in Boyer’s preliminary drawings), Trinity and DP Road.” The zoning change was approved by a 6-0 vote, with commissioner Laura Crotzer absent.In his director’s report to the commission, Bohn introduced Paul Belson, the county’s newest planner, to commissioners. Belson was hired to replace planner Matthew Long, who left the area. Belson’s duties will include planning for Rendija Canyon.Bohn also said that one open seat on the commission should be filled soon, and that three very good applicants had already been interviewed.The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission is Dec. 12.