Trustees Approve Building Moratorium on Gravel Surfaces
- Real Estate
- Published on Wednesday, 11 March 2015 15:02
- Joanne Wallenstein
The Village Board of Trustees held a speedy public hearing and passed a moratorium on building projects that include gravel surfaces where the use of gravel allows the project to meet lot coverage requirements on Tuesday March 10. The moratorium, that will remain in effect until June 30, exempts any projects that were already in the approval process before February 10, 2015.
Village Trustees are currently considering the Floor Area Ratio requirements that regulate the size of construction projects in the Village. Their study is in response to residents' concerns about the bulk of newly constructed homes and their effect on neighborhood character.
This brief moratorium is intended to halt the construction of oversized homes until Trustees can study the existing code and determine ways to better regulate building size, placement and lot coverage.
At a meeting on February 25,Geroge Jones of George Jones Associates who helped to formulate the original regulations was invited to meet with the trustees. He discussed his findings but agreed that the trustees first needed to identify and define the problems and then they can craft solutions. In addition to the floor area ratio method, the group discussed a volumetric approach which regulates the volume of a structure and contextual zoning which regulates homes sizes based on block or neighborhood. Each were found to be problematic.
Several trustees and community members thought that the current system of penalties and bonuses that allows builders to add extra space that does not count in the floor area calculation could be at the root of the problem.
The regulations offered rewards in terms of increased space for certain design features and penalties for others that were thought to increase the appearance of bulk.
For example, under the 2002 guidelines, underground garages were penalized while above ground garages earned the builder a bonus. At the time, there was a perception that an underground garage would result in a taller house and an increased appearance of bulk. Also penalized were basements that extend more than three feet above grade and floor to ceiling heights above 14 feet. Oversized dormers would cause attic space to be counted in the floor air ratio equation, while limiting the size of the dormers would allow attic space to be omitted from the equation. Dormered areas above garages were also omitted from the floor area equation as well as basements, explaining why so many new homes today have garages with dormers and fully finished basements extending the entire span of the house. Increasing the side yard setback could also yield a reward of increased square footage.
Though it appears that time is running out for the current Village Board to tackle the issues, the implementation of the moratorium will make this matter a priority for the incoming board and mayor to address in April.
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