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Architectura; design review in single family areas

Joel Lawson

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Howdy. Design control over single family dwellings is not common in our area, but our Coucnil has asked us to look at implementing such a system, likley with design review by a review panel based on some form of established guidelines. The reason? It is obvious that our Zoning Bylaw cannot be made to ensure the preservation of neighbourhood character. I am looking for advice / comments / critiques / examples from anyone working with design review of single family areas.

Thanks much.
 

Joel Lawson

Member
Messages
3
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design review in single family areas

Looking for comments / advice / suggestions from architects who have dealt with design review panels for single family dwellings. Such things are not common here, but we (in the planning department I work for) have been asked to look at proposing such a system. In your experience, does it work???

Thanks



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design review in single family areas

Does it work? That depends on what one intends such a system to accomplish.

Will it further undermine our constitutional right to private property? Yes, most definitely.

Will it improve the quality of design? No.

Will it further slow down development and put yet another regulatory burden on the homeowner and the economy in general? Yes.

Fred Gibson
 

Joel Lawson

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design review in single family areas

Thanks, Fred for your comments. It is interesting that the strongest proponents of a reveiw system here are a number of architects and designers. We also have MANY concerns about the implementation of a design review process, but we are also seeing the deterioration of our communities by developemnt and designs that are inappropriate to the terrain and very insensitve to neighbours and the community. If you would like to elaborate on your comments I would appreciate it, particularly in relation to the "constitutional right to private property" vs. the "moral repsonsibility to ones neighbours and ones community". The two need not be at odds, but often, unfortunately, are.
 
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design review in single family areas

Design review boards are absolutely essential to maintaining a degree of architectual stability in a community, as well as keeping property values from dropping, and maintaining a sense of permanance. The problems I have seen with them is they can be inconsistant, enforcing higher standards for some than for others. I have noticed the one in my neighborhood tends to be too liberal with what they allow. My observations of those who attempt to violate the board's directives is they tend to be self-absorbed and generally lack respect for their neighbors. In the case of those building apartments, it appears to be outright greed at the expense of distroying the atmosphere of a neighborhood they themselves don't live in.
Advice: Keep the review boards monitored for imposing standards that are consistant to all. Gain more support by explaining the value (in tourist dollars, for example) of keeping a geodesic dome from being built in your historic district. Most people understand and support such a system, even knowing that it imposes on their freedom. Give the review board TEETH. This has been the toughest goal, so far in our board. Until recently they only had real power over property owners with loans obtained through a city program.

Does it work?: Overall, yes. It has been a key element in helping turn our neighborhood around, for the better. People take much greater pride in their property, attracting more and more families who do the same. Crime is down considerably sense these efforts, including the use of the board, began about twenty years ago. A recent victory of the board was stopping a church from expanding their sanctuary into the street, blocking off the street from public use.

I highly advise your planning department in starting a review board. No one here wants to go back to what we had twenty years ago.

Ed Howard
 
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