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Thread: Zone Change v. Rights

  1. #1
         
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    Zone Change v. Rights

    Our town has residential zones designated as A15, A25, and A40 (15000 SF min etc.).

    Due to street congestion and school overpopulation (& open space loss) we are considering eliminating A15 (transfer to A25). This effects around 1500 parcels....and about half of them would be non-conforming per A25 standards.

    Curious how you/your town evaluates benefit to town vs. owner/development rights.

  2. #2

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    Wow. I don't have a good answer for you, but this sounds like a political nightmare, unless there is a strong local groundswell of support for reducing density (Golly. 15,000 square foot lots defined as "dense" )

    Obviously, public education, workshops, going to the extreme of public outreach are all necessary-go beyond the state/local minimums.

    We would be extremely reluctant about creating that degree of nonconformity. Even with the existing structures "grandfathered" in, you are limiting the ability of property owners to get financing and could discourage maintenance and other property improvements. Still, I don't know your individual circumstances, so....Good Luck

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    You need to give careful consideration to whether the proposed drop of the A15 zoning district will actually help your community meet it's desire goals.

    Yes, larger minimum lot sizes do mean fewer homes and presumable fewer children needing public education. But, it also means higher land and home costs that could significantly impact housing affordability. It could also mean longer streets (higher minimum lot size often equates to longer roads as street frontage lengths increase). Longer streets mean increased public maintenance costs and higher bussing costs for the school district.

    As alternatives, have your looked at promoting mixed use higher density development/redevelopment as a way or reducing vehicular trip demand?

    Have you considered impact fees for new residential development to offset the increased cost to the school district?

    Density is not the enemy. Make the planning commission tatoo this on their forearms if necessary.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  4. #4

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    BKM is right about the non-conforming lots. It will be an administrative mess. If there are places where the smaller lots are concentrated, and where there is not much chance of further subdivision, I would leave those areas in the A-15 when I downzoned everything else.

    Then you need to think about what SGB has said. I don't think that a lower density per se will necessarily help. Careful analysis of the fiscal impacts should be made before making the change.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by SGB
    <snip> Yes, larger minimum lot sizes do mean fewer homes and presumable fewer children needing public education. <big snip>
    Density is not the enemy. Make the planning commission tatoo this on their forearms if necessary.
    The first part of the quote is interesting. Such a down-zoning might (repeat might) expose the community to an investigation under the federal Fair Housing Act Amendments in that it is illegal to discriminate against families with children under the age of 18. I know it sounds like a stretch, but it isn't. If housing in the 25 and 35 zones is not specifically designed and constructed principally for use by the elderly (HUD = 55ys+), then the community has its neck out for any sharp civil rights attorney.

    I think SGB's second suggestion should be mandatory.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by pzchair

    Due to street congestion and school overpopulation (& open space loss)
    Perhaps a push for planned unit development with smaller lots and mandatory open space maintained within each project would be a better approach.

  7. #7
         
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess
    Perhaps a push for planned unit development with smaller lots and mandatory open space maintained within each project would be a better approach.
    Actually we do have a Conservation/Open Space Development requirement. Any parcel greater than 15 acres that is to be subdivided must abide by that unless we determine a conventional subdivision is ok. The OSCD is based on the cluster home with large Open Space idea. However, the density if based on the maximum density allowed as a conventional....so the rezone still is an issue.

    What would make sense (as pointed out) is to rezone the larger areas with less of the non-conforming lots....however, since there is such a mish-mash this might create issues of spot-zoning.

    I do like the Fee idea that was recommended.

    We have a lot to consider....thanks for the comments.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SGB
    As alternatives, have your looked at promoting mixed use higher density development/redevelopment as a way or reducing vehicular trip demand?

    Have you considered impact fees for new residential development to offset the increased cost to the school district?

    Density is not the enemy. Make the planning commission tatoo this on their forearms if necessary.
    I agree completely with these statements. It sounds to me like the problem is related to the financing of schools and design of the transportation system. Reducing density is not a cure all and in the long run increases the cost of services per development unit. Of course when it comes to transportation, everyone thinks there is always a problem. One thing I've learned in the field, regardless of the true state of "congestion" people will always complain about excessive traffic, they don't want to pay to fix the problem (perceived or real) and engineers are always looking for ways to "over engineer" things. Not to say that there aren't real problems out there, but NYMBY syndrome is not exclusively related to land use conflicts.

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