Newport becomes first in Vermont to adopt form-based code for zoning

first_imgAt the December 6, 2010 Newport City Council meeting, Newport became the first municipality in the state of Vermont to adopt form-based code into its zoning by-law. Form-based code is graphic form standards that regulate form of building rather than use of building. It has a positive approach illustrated by its language of ‘build to lines’ rather than ‘set backs.’ Form-based code defines desired development patterns.‘Form-based code is a three-pronged approach to zoning,’ stated Paul Dreher, Newport City Zoning Administrator. ‘It benefits the city with increased tax base, business benefits from expedited predictable permitting and it benefits the community with better public realm.’Newport accomplished this in only eight months because of partnership. Newport City Renaissance Corporation, a nonprofit organization that acts as a catalyst for community and economic development for downtown Newport, the Newport City Planning Commission and the Newport City Council worked together bringing resources and commitment to the process.‘Adoption of form-based code in record time through the hard work of numerous people and really proves that grass roots efforts pay off,’ stated Paul Monette, Newport City Mayor. ‘This type of zoning greatly improves the ability for the city to attract development while maintaining our historic downtown. While change does not happen overnight, this zoning will help initiate change and much-needed growth.’‘I am elated with the formal passage of the new Forms-Based Code by the Newport City Council,’ said Monette. ‘Newport City is the first in the State of Vermont and one of the few in the country to pass this type of code into its zoning bylaws.’In 2009, Newport was the first municipality in Vermont to receive the American Institute of Architects (AIA) grant for a Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT). The team held community meetings and focus groups with community members and produced a report of recommendations for the City to pursue in planning development and re-development of its downtown and waterfront on Lake Memphremagog. One of its recommendations was to adopt form-based code. If the downtown buildings fell down under the old zoning by-law, it could not be built to replace the fabric of building forms. Form-based code does.Source: Newport City Renaissance Corporation. 12.7.2010‘Form-based code is efficient because it takes away the variance process which slows things down when a project is being developed,’ said Patricia M Sears, Executive Director of Newport City Renaissance Corporation. ‘Form-based code allows for long term vision for the city’s downtown.’Because form-based code promotes mixed use for buildings, with retail on ground floor, offices on second floor and housing on the top floors, Newport is looking forward to form-based code refreshing neighborhoods and promoting entrepreneurs.‘Newport can truly say it is ‘Open for Business’,’ declared Charlie Elliott, chairman of Newport City Planning Commission.last_img read more

Separating the constitutional wheat from the chaff

first_imgSeparating the constitutional wheat from the chaff November 15, 2005 Senior Editor Regular News Separating the constitutional wheat from the chaff Legislators plan to look at the state’s governing document with an eye toward removing the extraneous Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Florida lawmakers appeared headed toward a serious effort to streamline the state constitution. The respective judiciary committees of the House and Senate met October 19 to begin the task of separating what they see as the constitutional wheat from the chaff. The review is an oft-expressed goal of Senate Judiciary Chair Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden, and he and House Judiciary Committee Chair David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, expressed determination to accomplish the task this year. “We’re going to undertake the revision process with Sen. Webster and the Judiciary Committee in the Senate,” Simmons said. He noted members had been given examples of other state charters as well as a “model” constitution. He asked committee members to compare those documents which had been provided “so we will be able to give it time and attention.” Simmons also anticipated that there would be a meeting of the Senate and House judiciary committees at some point to jointly work out issues. The committee was given information that since the new state constitution was adopted in 1968 — and the rewriting of Art. V on the judiciary was approved in 1972 — 136 amendments had been proposed, and 102 had been approved by voters. That includes 71 amendments placed on the ballot by the legislature, 21 by citizen initiatives, two from the constitutionally mandated Tax and Budget Commission, and eight from the constitutionally mandated Constitution Revision Commission. Of the 31 voter-rejected amendments, 20 were turned down by voters in the 1970s, with amendments since 1980 having a much greater chance of success. (Three amendments were tossed out by the Supreme Court for various infirmities.) At the Senate meeting, Webster reiterated his pledge from last year that he does not want to rewrite or drastically change basic rights or the structure of government in the constitution, but merely to streamline it because of the addition of so many amendments. The process, as outlined, would have the committee review the basic constitution as passed in 1968 (and Art. V in 1972). All subsequent amendments would be filtered for appropriateness. The committee would prepare further amendments striking those that are found unsuitable, and the legislature would then enact legislation making those changes statutory. “Are we adding to the constitution? The answer is no,” Webster said. “In the future, I wish we would have a little purity in what we offer up as amendments to the people.” Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Tamarac, noted that while some people might consider certain provisions of the constitution as extraneous or unnecessary, they are in the document because voters wanted them there. The Florida Bar has not taken a legislative position on the streamlining effort of the constitution. However, last year in a position that remains in effect, the Bar Board of Governors did support constitutional changes that would limit the types of amendments that could be made to the state’s basic charter. That positions says that the Bar: “Supports the concept of having the Florida Legislature enact a joint resolution to place on the ballot a provision that amendments or revisions by initiative must: amend or repeal an existing section of this constitution on the same subject and matter; address a basic or fundamental right of a citizen of this state; or change the basic structure of state government as established in Article II, Article III, Article IV, or Article V of this constitution.”last_img read more

Leandra’s Law Interlock Penalties Increased, DA Warns

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, right, speaks at a news conference Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. From left are Betsy Shein, whose son was killed by a drunken driver; Lenny Rosado, whose daughter was killed by a drunken driver and had Leandra’s Law named after her; and Marge Lee, head of anti-DWI advocacy group DEDICATEDD.Convicts who drove drunk with children as passengers have been skirting sentencing under the New York State law that makes such conduct a felony, a trend that prompted passage of tougher penalties that begin Friday.Amendments to Leandra’s Law going into effect double the six-month duration convicted drunken drivers must have their vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device that forces them to blow into a breathalyzer and stops them from starting the engine if they have alcohol on their breath—a sentence requirement most ignore.“We are one of the toughest states on drunken driving, and tomorrow we will be even tougher,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice told reporters during a news conference at her Mineola office Thursday while flanked by advocates for families of victims killed or maimed by drunken drivers. “We are going to be able to capture a lot of those people that are evading the ignition interlock now.”Seventy two percent of New York State drunken-driving convicts ignore court orders to install interlocks or skirt the law by transferring ownership of their vehicles, according to the state Office of Probation Correctional Alternatives.The beefed-up Leandra’s Law also allows authorities to install interlocks before convicts are sentenced to ensure that it gets done, mandates interlocks for youthful offenders and upgrades driving while intoxicated with a conditional license—limited driving privileges judges grant to some DWI convicts—from a traffic violation to a felony, same as DWI without a license.In addition, DWI convicts who agree not to own or drive a vehicle will be required to make those statements under oath that, when violated, can result in charges of contempt of court of filing a false instrument—misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail.“My life is not in any way normal anymore,” said Betsy Shein, whose 21-year-old son, Jason, was killed in Farmingdale five years ago by a drunken driver who had transferred ownership of his SUV after a prior DWI conviction. “When you get together for Thanksgiving and there’s an empty chair, it hurts.”Lenny Rosado, whose 11-year-old daughter Leandra was killed in 2009 in New York City when the drunken driver of the SUV she was riding in crashed, said he hoped that the law named for her will go national.Leandra’s Law, or the Child Passenger Protection Act, made driving while intoxicated with a passenger 15 years old or younger a felony in New York when it passed later the same year. The law also required all DWI convicts—misdemeanor first-time offenders and felons alike—to install interlocks, regardless of whether there were any kids along for the ride.Assistant District Attorney Maureen McCormick, the Vehicular Crimes Bureau chief who helped Rice lobby for the Leandra’s law amendments, added that there are still a few more loopholes that need closing, especially for drugged drivers.“It’s difficult to know on a given night how many drunk drivers are out there,” she said. “We’ve got to change the culture, we’ve got to start young.”last_img read more