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Thread: Building height standards in mountain communities

  1. #1
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    Building height standards in mountain communities

    Before I re-invent the wheel, does anyone have a building height comparison of mountain communities....such as but not necessarily Telluride, Vail, Tahoe, Sun Valley, Jackson Hole, Park City, etc.?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I am not a fan of height limits, as I think they often complicate good design and lead to cities with a monotonous skyline. What's more, they are not often based on any good reason, but the sort of thing like "the height of a mature cottonwood tree." I think we both know who I am referring to there.

    From a builder's standpoint, arbitrary height limits can restrict the ability to develop a property effectively. Architectural details and mechanical elements, like elevator shafts, can pose another problem. You also need to consider the needs of businesses, which may need to have certain ceiling heights to accommodate the work they do.

    I would not be concerned about the limits other communities have set. First, talk to your fire department to see if their equipment has limitations under which you will have to work. Next, determine how many stories you want to go up, then talk to builders and architects to see what they tell you about the need for ceiling heights, space between floors, roof systems, etc. You should be able to come up with a pretty good number from that, and have confidence that it will allow the buildings you want in the community. You should also build in a simple process for wiavers to the height restriction based on necessity, or for distinctive architectural elements.

    Another problem to be aware of is determining the base elevation from which you measure height. Is it the original grade prior to development? The proposed finished grade? Do you take an average when the grade slopes across the site, or do you measure from the lowest/highest point? Does the measurement change when the developer digs down to create an exposed basement?
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    Thanks for your response.

    I am well aware of the nuances in building height calculations and the benefits and problems that height regulations bring. My politicians just want to see where our regs fall in line with others, hence my request.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Big Sky, Montana has a bunch of height limitations, most of which are around the 33 foot limit (mean height between eaves and ridge). There is also a pretty heavily used "ridgeline" regulation that gets a tremendous amount of attention from the public and sucks up a huge amount of time from us: we have three roads from which you can't skyline and from which visibility needs to be minimized. Review usually consists of having the builder raise a large tarp that we can see from the road... sometimes people have to move the building, sometimes they're fine. The 33 foot height limit is fairly generous for a single-family residence, so the ridgeline reg, while a huge pain in the butt, actually lets us and the folks who live their accomplish the goal of minimizing ridgeline visibility. PM me if you want more. Also, the reg is online if you want to look at that.

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    Thanks vaughan

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    Squamish BC has some (relatively vague) guidelines that propose principles for height (to avoid that monotony problem mentioned above). See the second page of the following document at:

    http://www.sgog.bc.ca/uplo/SqDraftCPSec4PM.pdf

    (or, click on Place Making from this page: http://www.sgog.bc.ca/content.asp?contentID=135)

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Kirer has typically proposed limting the number of stories, rather than overall height. I think that amkes sense and allows for some leeway/flexibility while preventing condo-monsters.
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  8. #8
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    You can find our standards for Jackson Hole at www.tetonwyo.org

    Essentially, we allow 30' residential building height, however, we do regulate skylining. Properties that have the potential to skyline require a visual analysis and a planner to verify by the use of story poles and flagging. This would be found in Article III, and the height definition (with pictures) is in Article VIII. A lower height is required in these areas, as well as screening.

    Of course, Teton Village is a PUD and has its own standards: 62' 6".

    Good luck.

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