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Thread: Accomodation of diners in communities with strict architectural regulations

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Mar 1996
    Upstate New York
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    Accomodation of diners in communities with strict architectural regulations

    For those working in communities that might have strict commercial architectural regulations, such as masonry coverage requirements and the like, I've got a question. Let's say someone showed up on your doorstep with a traditional American diner, which doesn't meet any of the architectural regulations I've seen. How would such a beast be handled in your community?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
    Jan 2009
    louisville, ky
    try and get it qualified as a historic structure (assuming its an actual diner and not a new conversion) and then let them install it and open up the doors?

    could also get some sort of exemption for it. diners add a lot of character to an area and promote pedestrian activities imo.

  3. #3
    Jul 2006
    I would be engaging my electeds (or at least the decision-makers, if it's the plan commission) in a little behind the scenes discussion of the acceptability of the proposal. If it's a use that they want to support, regardless of the requirements, then I would figure out a way that THEY could make the decision, rather than staff giving an exemption.

    Perhaps there is something in the request that is unusal and you can hang your hat on....this proposal is for a building that is 800 s.f. and is historic (following cellophane's recomomendations)? I always try to give my electeds a "way out" if they want to support something and need to make an exception to the rule.

    Perhaps there is a way to make an accommodation because they are willing to invest in other portions of the site - landscaping, sidewalks, patios, water/sewer - etc, etc. - in a way that exceeds other areas of the code.

  4. #4
    We don't have design review outside our local historic districts, so I can't help there.

    I would point out, though, that most historic structures lose their eligibility for historic designation when they are moved. There are exceptions, but typically only when the context so closely resembles the former site that loss of context isn't an issue or the structure is truly one-of-a-kind. Would a structure that is meant to be relocated maintain it's historic designation? Difficult call, IMO.

  5. #5
    Jun 2006
    the rainy state of Oregon
    In other cities I've worked in, if they refused to modify the design to meet the standards, they would have to apply for a variance. In the town I work in now, we had a consultant who created an overlay zone that has very strict architectural design standards, BUT at the same time he also created an extremely flexible alternative discretionary review process that requires a public hearing but basically gives the developer the flexibility to propose whatever they want as long as the Planning Commission finds that it meets the INTENT of the design standards.

    So long story short, in my town now, they would just have to submit an application for the discretionary review process and then plead their case directly to Planning Commission, and then P.C. could say it meets the intent and approve it. If you're a fan of strict architectural design standards, I'd say this process pretty much blows that out of the water. But if you're a fan of having the appointed/elected officials take the heat for whatever shlock they approve, then it totally works. Just depends on your perspective I guess.

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