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Eastside & Westside Neighborhoods Design Standards Study

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pdfFinal Report
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pdfStudy Area Map
On May 24, 2011, the City Council discussed a new work plan/approach. Main discussion points were:

  • The need to more clearly define the problem and goal to be addressed in any further work. Large-size houses, shading of neighboring houses, and raised houses were discussed as concerns.
  • Various perspectives on the general idea that overall design of new development is important, rather than house size on its own. House size relative to lot size is an aspect of design, along with many other aspects.
  • An expectation that regulations or other solutions will probably need to be tailored to different parts of the neighborhoods, rather than being “one size fits all” solutions for whole zoning districts.
The direction of Council was for Councilmembers Ben Manvel and Wade Troxell to meet with staff to work out an agreed-on problem statement, goals, objectives, and public process.

In January 2010, at the direction of City Council, staff initiated a study to examine whether changes to existing regulations were warranted to address the compatibility of new houses and additions in the eastside and westside neighborhoods (adjacent to Downtown). Some residents were concerned that a portion of the new houses and additions being built were not compatible with existing neighborhood character, particularly in the case of expanded houses that were much larger than existing houses in the vicinity. Potential implementation options were developed and presented to City Council as follows:

1. No change to current regulations.
2. Design Assistance Program.
3. Voluntary Design review.
4. House size standards.
5. Design standards.

At the November 23 City Council work session, Council directed staff to bring forward options 2, 3, and 4, which were presented and discussed by Council at their regular meetings on January 4 and February 1, 2011.

On February 1, 2011, City Council approved on 2nd Reading, two Ordinances related to the East and West Side Neighborhoods Design Standards Study. Ordinance No. 002, 2011, amended the Municipal Code to add a function allowing a committee of the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) to offer voluntary design consultation for interested property owners, and increase the membership of the LPC from seven to nine members.

Ordinance No. 003, 2011 amended the Land Use Code by lowering the current limits for building floor area in the Neighborhood Conservation Low Density (NCL) and Neighborhood Conservation Medium Density (NCM) zoning districts, by applying a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) formula based on the size of a lot to determine total allowed floor area; the first 3,000 square feet of a lot would be allowed a .45 FAR, and then the remaining square feet would be allowed a .25 FAR. Ordinance No. 003 also included a requirement that any variance request to the floor area limits receive a recommendation from a committee of the LPC to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for their consideration in deciding the variance request. Finally, the Ordinance required the City to monitor the implementation of the Ordinance and report back to the City Council within two years.

On April 19, 2011, the City Council was presented with a referendum petition, seeking to repeal Ordinance No. 003. At that meeting, City Council voted to repeal the Ordinance, and directed staff to schedule a work session to discuss a new work plan/approach.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss a new work plan/approach at their May 24, 2011 work session. Work sessions are held in the Council Information Center at City Hall West, 300 Laporte Avenue, starting at 6 PM, and are available for viewing on City Cable Channel 14.