MXW Adopted for Easton Point
A significant step in the development of Easton Point has been achieved with the approval of the revised Mixed-Use Waterfront (MXW) Zoning District regulations by the Easton Town Council on March 18, 2019. April 7th marked 20 days since the Mayor signed the Ordinance, making it now officially part of the Town’s Zoning Code.
The MXW was originally approved concurrently with the Port Street Small Area Plan in January 2018, as the primary regulatory tool to implement the Vision described in that Plan. Although that version of the MXW provides the overall land use framework to achieve the Vision, the Planning Commission envisioned an even more sophisticated and innovative approach that they could not fully develop in time for the initial adoption. Thus, the Commission and Town Staff spent most of 2018 working on refinements to the MXW, the primary one of which was the addition of “Incentive-Bonus” provisions. These provisions allowed developers or property-owners to potentially build beyond certain base developments standards, by payment of a per-square-foot bonus fee, which has been initially established at $9.50 per-square-foot of floor area in excess of the amount that could otherwise be built by right. The funds collected from the payment of these fees will then be directed to three public amenities that the Planning Commission identified as crucial in the initial development or redevelopment of Easton Point: Construction of the Boardwalk/Promenade, public parking, and transient boat slips.
The Town Council approved the Ordinance after some final refinement by the Planning Commission in response to concerns raised by some individuals at the Public Hearing, over the effect of the cost of the Bonus Fee. The Commission concluded that the fee was appropriate, but agreed that in the interest of (1) encouraging early activity on Easton Point and (2) further promoting the goal and vision of a truly mixed-use Easton Point, a couple of refinements were appropriate. Specifically, the Bonus Fee was proposed to be phased in over time and assessed at a lower rate for projects that contain a minimum percentage of commercial activity. The hope in making this final revision is that economic activity will occur sooner, rather than later, and funds will be generated to begin to provide some important public amenities associated with the development of Easton Point as a mixed-use area, with a major emphasis on expanded public open space along and near the waterfront.