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Thread: Austin may limit home sizes in older neighborhoods:

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Austin may limit home sizes in older neighborhoods:

    This is great news as there has been a trend lately of rich folks buying small homes in the old neighborhoods, leveling them, and then building some ridiculous monstrosity that stands out like a sore thumb:

    Urban Affairs: Council may limit home sizes
    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    The Austin Planning Commission usually tackles an issue before it goes to the City Council. But on Tuesday night, the commissioners were following the council's lead when they backed a proposed ordinance to temporarily limit the size of some homes in older neighborhoods. The council gave the ordinance preliminary approval last week and will consider giving final approval tonight.

    The 7-to-1 commission vote extended the limitations to duplexes as well as single-family homes.

    Some of the commissioners dropped the pretext that the temporary ordinance was needed to address a drainage emergency. Drainage is a significant problem, they said, but this ordinance is largely intended to address a compatibility clash between larger, redone homes and their smaller, older neighbors.

    Commissioner John-Michael Cortez said they all recognized that the drainage emergency was mainly a justification for the emergency measure, which will be in place until June.

    "It is buying us the time to really address the problem," Cortez said. At that point, the council hopes to have more permanent regulations ready for consideration.
    http://www.statesman.com/news/conten...svc=7&cxcat=52
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Couldn't agree more with this article. This has been an incresing trend in many of the inner ring suburbs in metro Detroit. This type of development destroys the character of the neighborhood. I often wonder what the mentality is for these people. I understand the character of dense development and more historic neighborhoods to be packed together on extremely small lots. I cannot understand when people choose to build their homes to within 12 inches of their neighbor though?

  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Well, Austin had better be very careful about the level of restrictions they place on new/expanded homes. They shouldn't try to reduce the allowable size too much, because it could unecessarily limit re-investment in the City.

    It reallys depends on the size of the lots in question. Are we talking large houses on 6,000sqft or less lots or large houses on 7,000 sqft or greater lots?

    Quote Originally posted by jringel
    I often wonder what the mentality is for these people. I understand the character of dense development and more historic neighborhoods to be packed together on extremely small lots. I cannot understand when people choose to build their homes to within 12 inches of their neighbor though?
    Are munis actually allowing new houses to be built that small a distance from the property line? I highly doubt it. With larger houses, is the actual density increasing or is it just preception due to a change in scale/massing?

    Remember, neighborhoods change, and that 1920's neighborhood drastically changed the character of the neighborhood when it was begun in 1919.
    Last edited by mendelman; 16 Feb 2006 at 1:11 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    This is very similar to what SLC has just done. Limiting height to 28 feet to the peak city wide and 23 feet in some neighborhoods of the city. Also restricted the coverage of the lot to 40%. Setbacks are 20 feet or the average of the block face, which ever is less. There are exceptions to exceed these amounts for unique situations and if the proposal is consistent with the rest of the development on the block.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jringel
    Couldn't agree more with this article. This has been an incresing trend in many of the inner ring suburbs in metro Detroit. This type of development destroys the character of the neighborhood. I often wonder what the mentality is for these people. I understand the character of dense development and more historic neighborhoods to be packed together on extremely small lots. I cannot understand when people choose to build their homes to within 12 inches of their neighbor though?

    Many of these homes look like the snout of a dog's nose, as they all HAVE to have attached garages and are too narrow of lots to put the garage in back. I've even seen this sort of stuff happen within the city limits. It is ugly, out of scale, and just plain weird.

    I think a lot of these folks love the neighborhoods they are in (Birmingham, Dearborn, Rochester Hills, Warrendale, far East Side) and don't want to leave, but also want to keep up with the Joneses by building giant houses whenever they can find an empty lot. In some cases they are ripping down perfectly good houses to build em.

    I suspect that this monster house phenomena is pretty common.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  6. #6
    Member tbombadill's avatar
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    volume control

    Goldarn, this is timely.
    My town wants an ordinance written that limits these "kockdown-rebuilds". The Pennsylvania MPC allows bulk zoning controls. So I'm drafting language that limits street frontage vertical replacement area, along with a minimal square footage increase. Existing buildings will be responsible for self reporting their height x width along the street, and registering, if ever they sell to a developer. All this assumes that the replacement house is rebuilt on the old foundation, which would exemt the new building from volume controls. Anyone have something written similar?

  7. #7
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by tbombadill
    Goldarn, this is timely.
    My town wants an ordinance written that limits these "kockdown-rebuilds". The Pennsylvania MPC allows bulk zoning controls. So I'm drafting language that limits street frontage vertical replacement area, along with a minimal square footage increase. Existing buildings will be responsible for self reporting their height x width along the street, and registering, if ever they sell to a developer. All this assumes that the replacement house is rebuilt on the old foundation, which would exemt the new building from volume controls. Anyone have something written similar?
    Sounds like you're trying to mitigate the problem by creating an ordinance and associated process that no one will be able to understand or implement.

    No one will want to do teardowns, because it will be too much of a hassle to understand the process/regulations.

    Good luck!
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

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