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Thread: Two-story minimum in mixed use - how to define and build in flexibility

  1. #1
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    Two-story minimum in mixed use - how to define and build in flexibility

    I'm looking for examples of two-story minimums in form-based zoning codes (particularly TOD zoning codes). Although two-story minimums may be implemented in mixed use districts to encourage higher density, they can also create some difficulties, such as:

    -Some civic uses, such as churches and theaters, may need the height, but not the dual stories.
    -Small size; a structure may not be big enough to support two stories.
    -Topography may preclude two-stories.

    The main questions I'm interested in answering are:

    1. How does one define a "two-story building" or a "story" in general? (Do churches with choir lofts or theaters with balconies count as two-story buildings?)
    2. How can one build in flexibility to codes that include a two-story minimum? Are there precedents for procedural or other ways to adjust this requirement when necessary?

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Not to delve too far down into the details, but are you dealing with a customized form-based code, or a SmartCode that has been calibrated for your city? The reason I ask is that it would be pretty easy to solve this using the "warrant" system present in many SmartCodes.

    If you're dealing with a different type, I might suggest exempting civic spaces, and consider an administrative waiver of some kind provided that the articulation & design of the building reflects architectural standards consistent with the MU context, and maybe limit that waiver to only uses that are classified as "assembly" under your building/fire/life safety code.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your input. The code in question is simply a form-based code, not a SmartCode, so the warrant system is not applicable.

    The code exempts civic uses from building placement standards and allows them to seek Alternative Equivalent Compliance for some standards, but unfortunately not for minimum story height. A waiver system has potential utility, but I'm hoping to find something slightly more concrete. Waivers often have vague scopes of applicability and I'd like to find something a bit more confined to the purpose at hand. I'd love to find examples of cities or towns that have a two-story minimum and have a tool or method for dealing with special cases.

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