The Norwood Planning and Zoning Board met Monday night at the Norwood Community Center to discuss the town’s land use code, specifically landscaping and sign regulations.

The town’s mayor and board of trustees were present, as were several members of the Norwood community. Approximately 25 people were there. 

The first part of the meeting focused on landscaping. Town planner Cindy Chapin began by stating some changes to the code that had been made because of recent comments suggesting updates. 

Katie Sapp, P&Z board chair, said the current land use code is under draft revision, which could be approved at the board’s September regular meeting. 

During public comment, April Montgomery said she had concerns about the proposed changes. 

“I have comments on what’s been changed, some places are overdone,” she said. “Now, it’s a lot more confusing, and it needs to be really looked at carefully.”

Montgomery said she had issues with the preamble, along with setback requirements on building sites, and the development permitting process in Norwood. 

“I thought most communities had a development process. … I would hope you guys do have a permit process,” she said.

She also said she questioned use of the word “may” and “shall” in the land use code draft, as it was inconsistent. 

Chapin said there was a development process in place. The board also decided to discuss setbacks in detail at a later time; they’ll consider whether they should be listed in one separate section or listed by various sections as they applied.  

Mike Grafmyer also spoke during public comment. He said the land use code regulations are becoming too restrictive. He said there have been no new ground-up businesses in Norwood since 1993. 

“Why do you think that is?” he asked. “They can’t afford it. Here we are making stuff expensive. … How are locals just starting a business going to afford this stuff?”

Grafmyer said land use code regulations regarding berms and trees were costly to anyone who wanted to establish a new business, and tighter regulations would further inhibit development in town. 

Town trustee Shawn Fallon, who works in construction, added that making a berm was not that expensive, as his company usually has to remove dirt from a construction site. 

On the other hand, Marty Schmalz said she has worked on San Miguel County’s planning commission board. She said her experience showed her to make sure regulations are in place. 

“It’s easier to make an exception than it is to try and impose something not well thought out on development,” she said. “You can grant exceptions to any of these through review, but if you don’t have regulations in place, it’s like closing the barn door after the cows get out.”

The work session also discussed regulations on signage, and after discussion, the board may vote to put into place a 20-foot sign maximum. The board and public discussed Ridgway’s regulations on signage as an example. 

Currently, Norwood’s regulations specify a 35-foot max on signage. 

The board also decided to have an additional work session on Sept. 23 to further discuss “mass and scale,” as well as setbacks. 

P&Z will have its regular meeting before that work session on Sept. 16 to discuss and approve landscape regulations and screening regulations, as well as signage regulations. 

Sapp said still on the list to discuss in the future were building materials, trails and formula business criteria.