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You are here: Home Section Table Village Voices BOT Sets Public Hearing on Zoning Code Amendments to Reduce Home Bulk
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BOT Sets Public Hearing on Zoning Code Amendments to Reduce Home Bulk

26VernonRoadThough Scarsdale residents have complained for years about the size and height of new homes and additions, they received little solace when they complained to the Building Department or went before the Board of Architectural Review. Savvy builders, skilled at maximizing the size of homes, exploited the zoning code to earn bonuses in the allowable square footage.

Seeking to address these concerns, a Bulk Review Committee, the Planning Board, the Zoning Board, the Board of Architectural Review, and the Planning Department studied the issues and ultimately formulated a list of recommended changes to the zoning code to reduce the size of Scarsdale homes. In January 2021, the Village Board sent these recommendations to the Planning Board for review, and now the Planning Board has endorsed them.

In their memo to the Board of Trustees, the Planning Board explains, “One way is to look at bulk as the proliferation of homes that tower over, and are inconsistent with the scale of neighboring homes. The Planning Board understands that the floor area ratio (FAR) regulations already in place were implemented to address this issue and have been largely successful at preventing the construction of more “McMansions.” The other way to look at bulk is the gradual change in the character of the neighborhood over time as more and more new homes are built that use the maximum allowable floor area. As this trend continues, homes become taller and closer together. The Planning Board believes that the proposed changes, in combination address the latter issue.”

The Planning Board recommended that these recommendations, in particular the first three, be considered as a combined package, not as separate recommendations to be implemented individually.

Here are the five recommended changes:

1-Reduce the maximum permitted roof height from 35 feet to 32 feet;

2-Reduce the FAR side yard setback bonus by 30%;
Under current Village code a builder can add 100 square feet of floor area for each foot a house is setback beyond the required side yard set back. The new law would reduce that to 70 square feet of floor space for each foot the house is set back beyond the required minimum.

3-Eliminate the requirement that any home addition must be to the rear of the home in order to utilize the side yard FAR bonus;
This was found to incentivize builders to tear down existing homes rather than renovate them.

4-Clarify the Village Code to specify that the FAR garage credit applies to the square footage of the floor level of the garage where cars are parked, excluding space on upper floors.
This bonus was intended only for the floor area of the garage, not for any square footage in a second floor built above the garage, which is now included in the calculation.

5-Require Planning Board Site Plan approval for single family residential projects involving more than 15,000 square feet of gross floor area, eliminating review through a Special Use Permit from the Board of Appeals.

These changes will be the subject of a public hearing on Tuesday July 13, 2021 at the meeting of the Village Board at Scarsdale Village Hall.

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