Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Writing setback standards to mirror existing neighborhoood character

  1. #1
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,370

    Writing setback standards to mirror existing neighborhoood character

    So, our required front setbacks in most of the older portions of the city are kinda wonky and annoying to administer,therefore I am rethinking the methods, but there will need to be care to make sure we adhere to existing setback character of the already built out neighborhoods.

    I am thinking of going with an "or" text, and distinguishing between existing lots and new subdivisions.

    It will look something like this:

    Existing lots:
    Front setback = existing setback or 25 feet, whichever is less.
    Exterior Side setback (side adjacent to street) = existing setback or 10 feet, whichever is greater

    New lots (which will be seldom used because we are practically built out):
    Front setback = 25 feet
    Exterior Side setback = 20 feet

    Think the setback rules for existing lots would maintain character (because min. setback is what the character is now) but allow for moving the house forward on the lot in the rare instances when you have old houses that were built with very large setbacks. Right now we require the average setback along the frontage establishes the req'd setback, which is exceedingly burdensome and confusing.

    What are your thoughts? What do you do when trying to accommodate existing character?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    8,621

    Re: Writing setbacks standards to mirror existing neighborhoood character

    Hi - you might want to define existing setback - I was going to put in our Ordinance in an already developed district that the setback was the average of all the lots within 300 feet (the abutter definition); however, this will be hard to enforce because we don't have surveys of all those lots, so how would we get an accurate read? I worked in a town that did this and the owners just went out and measured and it was fine, but here, that kind of informality doesn't work too well. so if you can do an average with the culture of your town, that would be my recommendation but at the least, define what you mean as existing setback -

  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,370

    Re: Writing setbacks standards to mirror existing neighborhoood character

    yeah...that's a good thing to remember - must define existing setback.

    But the existing setback is easy for us to administer, because we require a current(ish) plat of survey of the property be submitted with any building permit. Plus, for sizeable additions we also require a site plan be included with the building plans.

    Plus, our major problem with average setback is we don't have plats of survey for all the nieghboring properties, therefore we don't actual double check the info given to us, so we have to take their word for it (though we can tell when it generally not right).

    I think that making the establishing of setbacks reliant only on the subject property, and not on neighboring properties is better and easier to administer.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  4. #4

    Re: Writing setbacks standards to mirror existing neighborhoood character

    Two word: Google Earth, bay-bee!
    While surveys or plats are ideal in a perfect world, GE is a great alternative and gives you pretty much what you need. Also, when defining existing setback, try to avoid confusing terms like "streetwall", "visual continuity" and other terms that will leave Joe Sixpack . Explain why it is important to align with the setback and he'll understand it better.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  5. #5
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    3,173

    Re: Writing setbacks standards to mirror existing neighborhoood character

    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    yeah...that's a good thing to remember - must define existing setback.
    yah, existing setback of WHAT? The next door neighbor, the whole block, etc? Here is how we deal with this issue:

    (b)    Front Yard. There shall be a front yard of not less than thirty feet, provided that if forty percent or more of all the frontage on one side of a street between two intersecting streets has been developed with one-family houses, the front yard so established shall prevail. This section shall not be construed to permit any new house to be closer than twenty feet to the front lot line, or require a front yard setback of more than fifty feet from the front lot line.

  6. #6
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,370

    Re: Writing setbacks standards to mirror existing neighborhoood character

    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    yah, existing setback of WHAT? The next door neighbor, the whole block, etc? Here is how we deal with this issue:
    The existing setback of the property/building in question for review.

    Sorry, if I didn't make that clear enough in the original post.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    3,173

    Re: Writing setbacks standards to mirror existing neighborhoood character

    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    yah, existing setback of WHAT? The next door neighbor, the whole block, etc? Here is how we deal with this issue:
    The existing setback of the property/building in question for review.

    Sorry, if I didn't make that clear enough in the original post.
    No problem! Here's where I was/am confused. If you have a vacant lot, then there is no existing setback. So, what # do you use? Then, say there is an existing house that wants to rebuild a front porch that was removed 50 years ago. The house is at 25 feet, but all other houses in the block are at 15 feet. What you proposed wouldn't allow the front porch without a variance. I don't know, just a few things to think about. I really like the way our wording is (posted above) because it does allow for some flexibility depending on the situation.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 10
    Last post: 25 Oct 2009, 2:24 AM
  2. Replies: 2
    Last post: 20 Dec 2006, 9:47 AM
  3. Replies: 37
    Last post: 28 Feb 2005, 9:29 PM
  4. Replies: 1
    Last post: 28 Jan 2003, 6:33 PM
  5. Replies: 1
    Last post: 14 Oct 1997, 6:31 PM