In our efforts Tuesday to explain the new infill standards, we used an example where we calculated the height for an infill home at 65 feet. We always get ourselves into trouble when we try to do math, but our math wasn’t the problem. The correction for yesterday’s infill piece is that height in residential districts is restricted to 40 feet.
Thank you to Greg Hallam from the planning department for pointing out our error. If you ever see errors, please don’t hesitate to let us know.
One of the questions we were unable to answer Tuesday was how the new infill projects would be approved. Christine Darges, also from the planning department, responded via email Tuesday. She said that new infill projects will get administrative approval, meaning they won’t have to go before the planning commission or city council.
We had a couple more questions for Darges about infill, so here are her answers in her own words from the email:
The most significant change proposed in the new draft for infill proposals is that the regulations will address elements of a proposed structure rather than emphasis on only lot configuration. Today the infill regulations are specific on lot shape and size, but very vague on where a new building is located and how big or tall it can be. Ironically, the building issues have been the common discussion points over the years in most of our infill cases and as a result, private restrictive covenants became the norm over time. This is a clear and evident pattern.
Today, the new code addresses not only lot configuration, but also the structure on a newly created or vacant lot, or when the “tear down” issue exists. The new code will require that setbacks, height and massing are reviewed based on the exiting neighborhood context and not a one-size-fits-all approach. The method of how the context is established is prescriptive.
Over the years we have seen a pattern of issues that are more related to the placement of structures versus the creation of a new lot.The new draft, on page 2-10 establishes that new structures on vacant tracts establish setbacks and height for structures based on the existing built patterns on the block.
With these context based regulations, the process would be an administrative review as the regulations are more prescriptive and precise, being less dependent on discretion.
Before we go any further we should skip ahead to Chapter 11, where the document spells out the roles of city staff, planning commission, the board of adjustments and city council. Stay tuned.