Rezoning items headed to county Planco, including McK Town Center

Daniel Mintz
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – The most controversial parts of General Plan zoning text changes will be taken up this month by the Humboldt County’s Planning Commission, including changes affecting McKinleyville’s Town Center area. 

The commission will review the attention-getting rezoning items at its April 18 meeting. They include the text of a new Mixed Use category, which will apply in the Town Center, and changes to timberland and agricultural zoning that increase residential entitlements. 

McKinleyville’s Town Center has been in planning stages for years and is a key aspect of the McKinleyville Community Plan. The ordinance process that defines development within the Town Center has been called for ever since the community plan was approved by the county in 2002 but still awaits action. 

TOWN CENTER This aerial photo shows the boundaries of the town center.
Graphic from McKinleyville Community Plan

The Town Center’s boundaries run from Pierson Park to McKinleyville Avenue and from Railroad Drive to just south of Hiller Road. The center also includes the commercial area north of Heartwood Drive. 

The McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC) reviewed the county’s rezoning texts during a March 13 special meeting. In a March 19 letter to the county, Kevin Dreyer, the committee’s chair, advised that the McKMAC agreed that Mixed Use provisions should “be refined as part of the Town Center ordinance process.” 

In a separate letter, Dreyer said he agrees with comments made at the March 13 meeting on the Mixed Use category including entitlements that “may not be appropriate” for some types of properties in community plan areas. 

The Mixed Use zoning intends to create town centers that mix urban-scale housing with a variety of commercial and business uses in a pedestrian-oriented setting.

But in a March 15 letter to the county, Colin Fiske, the executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities, wrote that “by applying substantially the same off-street parking standards to mixed use zones as to all other zones, the proposed text will result in auto-oriented development which is low density and unfriendly to pedestrians.”

Fiske added that the Mixed Use development standards “do not encourage required density” and more properties within the Town Center need to be covered under the category. 

The Planning Commission is in the process of reviewing and making recommendations on the text changes involved in rezoning. Land use map changes will be reviewed as a second phase of rezoning. 

Flood zones and wetlands: At last week’s commission meeting, on April 4, the commission reviewed zoning text changes for flood hazard zones and streamside management and wetland areas

Changes for the flood zones including requiring a special permit for development on lots that are below minimum parcel size. 

For the streamside areas, buffers of 50 feet are set for seasonal streams and 150 feet for perennial streams. 

The streamside management area provisions were done in consultation with the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. The agency’s recommendations on how to measure the buffer areas were also heeded and are included in the General Plan. 

Commissioners approved the changes as a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. The zoning text changes are the first phase of the General Plan rezoning process. Changes to the General Plan’s land use maps will follow. 



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