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Thread: infill housing controls?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    68

    infill housing controls?

    I'm looking for ordinances that place architectural controls on the nature of new infill housing within older neighborhoods.

    As with many other communities in the southwest, the bulk of our housing dates to the boom of the eighties, but we also have some much older portions of town. Some of the areas built out in the fifties have 900 to 1000 sq ft houses built on lots that could concievably contain four or five houses constructed under our current zoning ordinances.

    Many of these lots are being purchased, replatted, and subdivided into five or six lots, and nice, new two story brick houses are being built in between these tiny, old, wood framed units.

    While this helps accomplish the city's goal of increasing the stock of single family housing, the market value of these new units is astronomical compared to neighboring housing, and more importantly, the existing residents of the older parts of town are feeling threatened by the new development.

    We have been instructed to put together an ordinance that would insure that infill housing would blend in with the existing neighborhoood, and I was wondering if any other community had put together such an ordinance in the past.

    We are looking for a way to "have our cake and eat it too". Some rules that can allow developers to continue profitably putting together infill projects while making enough stylistic concessions to neighborhood activists to keep them from opposing every such proposal...

    Any leads would be helpful...as far as I can tell, most other communities would be too happy about a good infill market to risk limiting projects in this way.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Athens, Georgia
    Posts
    46
    While the community you are dealing with may not meet the definition of a historic district you might consider developing some kind of conservation district with special requirements for lot size, design review, etc.
    It would be a lot of work to get together design guidelines and new regulations but if you have any existing design review area and a review committee existing the planning probably wouldn't be too bad. You could design it as strict or loose as you wanted (or thought you could get approved)
    The resulting new construction would probably be so much more appealing that the property values would only get even higher than with the non-regulated designs.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Texas
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    68

    historic option

    I think that a historical overlay is probably what we are going to have to do, if we do anything. The residents of the area consider it to be historical, but...I just don't get excited about run-down old houses. I view the tiny old houses as tying up valuable real estate, since I would never consider living in one of them (my wife and I want a huge number of children, and it would get very cramped in such small quarters)...but they could be made worth preserving.

    The neighborhood has historical significance, the population has a history and an important legacy to leave behind, but the houses need a lot of work, and the people living in them have little money. The city has already poured a lot of money into rehabilitation efforts, but there is a lot more to be done.

    However, laying down a couple of overlay districts in the areas where there is some historical justification and where the neighbors are raising a fuss might solve the problem without stalling out infill developments elsewhere in town. Allowing infill growth to continue in other parts of town is my major goal...we probably have less than a decade before every "undeveloped" part of town is built out, and a thriving infill market will then be the only source of future growth.

    Yours is a good suggestion.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
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    Mr. Cool Ice
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    4,161
    While on the topic, anyone have problems with unions in their area when it comes to infill development. In Philly, several development companies own land in "revitalizing" areas, particularly the Northern Liberties section if anyone is familiar with Philly. Problem is, in the city you have to use union labor at union rates, and thus, can't build townhomes (we call 'em row homes in Philly) for a price that would attract first-time home buyers, something the city is trying desperately to attract.

    Most development companies are getting by without the union workers in the suburbs of Philly, so there isn't really the big push t move these inner city projects along. Anyone else experiencing this in their areas?

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