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Thread: Side yard setbacks and flooding concerns.

  1. #1
    Cyburbian rosierivets's avatar
    Nov 2006

    Side yard setbacks and flooding concerns.

    I searched but couldn't find anything similar to my conundrum so please link if need be.

    I am looking for information on the implications of changing zoning ordinance side yard setbacks to proactively address flooding concerns and issues created with a 3 to 1 slope for side yard swales (5 to 1 preferred). Our smallest lots are 7,800 sf with a 6' required side yard requirement. The minimum lot width is 60' but we have a bunch of 50' nonconformities platted earlier.

    I'm not sure if I am even articulating my "question" well. I suppose I'm looking for some feedback on whether this approach has been tried by others, whether there is any empirical data as to the outcome, good resources, etc. I want to be sure our decision is grounded in the assurance of good results rather than being reactionary.

    I want to be equipt to respond to some of the ways a 20' separation between homes will change the neighborhood fabric in a mid-sized suburban railroad town with relatively uniform, smallish lot sizes. And how a narrower footprint will impact issues of height/scale without dismissing the community's need to erradicate flooding problems (real and percieved).

    Thanks gang.
    How about you take a gander at making an executive decision for once, huh?

  2. #2
    Jul 2006
    Suburban Chicago
    Hmm...this is a hard one because I'm having trouble visualizing the neighborhood. We're currently working on a zoning ordinance for an older neighborhood in town (1950's) that has stormwater issues (but not flooding) and is undergoing significant redevelopment/teardowns.

    One issue we have is trying to figure out how best to regulate to make sure the original engineering for the neighborhood is maintained. The neighborhood had backyard swales that carried stormwater and the houses were all small on averaged sized lots - with detached garages. Then comes the mcMansions and the four car garages and the paving of every surface -- now the stormwater doesn't work well because there's no grass left (except in the front yard).

    We're working with our engineering consultants to do a "build-out" analysis -- to see if this pattern of development continues, what will happen to the stormwater infrastructure. Will it work? When would it fail?

    This will help our policy makers give us information: do they want to spend money on new infrastructure or do they want to pass lot coverage regulations to ensure that the old infrastructure will still work.

    What other regulations, other than setbacks, could you use to help you enforce your flood regs? Sometimes setback regulations create non-conformities that will give you trouble and create a million variances down the road. Could you look at lot coverage regulations, instead? How would the new setback change the look of the neighborhood? Is that a good thing?

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