I wish to address the issue of nonconforming structures in critical area buffers.
All current rules basically disallow any new development that makes an existing structure even one inch more nonconforming than it already is.
This is nuts.
For example, I once worked with a person who wanted to put a second-story porch on the south side of his 40-year-old home coming off the family den room and above a paved, ground level patio.
Well, there was a wetland system 170 feet away with a 200-foot buffer. When the guy asked the county if he could do this, they said, “No,” but what he could do is build the porch on the north side of his home, which was where the children’s bedrooms were.
When the guy called me and told his story, I simply asked him if he really thought anybody would ever know if he just built the porch without asking permission.
Virtually all impacts from existing, nonconforming structures in buffers occur from the initial construction. Once there, minor remodels cause no significant addition to the impacts. If the concern is that allowing any expansion could eventually result in the structure extending into the protected habitat, then just make rules that address that situation.
Allow limited expansion into buffers from existing structure footprints if it’s across lawn, landscaping, gravel or paved areas. This will save public and private money and eliminate wasted time by regulators. Plus, the environment will still be fully protected.