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Zoning Revisions Committee Presentation, 02-16-2011, Final Version


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This is the final version of the presentation prepared by the Zoning Revisions Committee for forums on 2/15/11 and 2/16/11. The committee made minor changes for clarity.

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Zoning Revisions Committee Presentation, 02-16-2011, Final Version

  1. 1. Rezoning Northampton for a Sustainable Future
  2. 2. The Zoning Revisions Committee (ZRC)Who We Are – A volunteer committee, appointed by the Planning Board – Formed to help implement “Sustainable Northampton” (the city’s comprehensive master plan adopted in 2008) – Selected to represent a variety of viewpoints, expertise and neighborhoods
  3. 3. Rezoning Northampton for a Sustainable FutureOur Charge: Get Sustainability into Zoning – Review current zoning & recommend revisions – Be a technical resource for the Planning Board – Provide a wide range of opportunities for public input to the zoning revision process
  4. 4. Infill is a Key IssueInfill Rose to the Surface as a Critical Issue for Sustainability Infill is new construction or redevelopment that fills in empty lots or adds units or uses in areas that are already developed Infill is an important tool for concentrating development in walkable neighborhoods, rather than sprawling into undeveloped areas Infill is the historic pattern of development in Northampton Parking Lots
  5. 5. Flavors of Infill – Adding Units Within Existing Homes BEFORE: 2-UNITS AFTER: 3-UNITS House 030.jpg ATTIC CONVERSION = “INVISIBLE INFILL”
  6. 6. Flavors of Infill – Converting Outbuildings to New Units CARRIAGE HOUSE CONVERSION, BUTLER PLACE
  7. 7. Flavors of Infill – Converting Garages to New UnitsBEFORE AFTER
  8. 8. Flavors of Infill – Building Additions BRIDGE STREET & POMEROY TERRACE
  9. 9. Flavors of Infill – Filling Gaps in the Street ? ? How should this gap in Walnut Street be filled?
  10. 10. Infill and Sustainability Environment – Reduces the need for new infrastructure, and reduces driving – Can be more energy efficient and lower carbon emissions – Is less damaging to natural systems than “greenfield” development Economy – Increases walking to businesses, supporting more commercial real estate and local jobs – Makes public transit more viable Equity – Provides a wide range of housing types and work spaces that meet peoples’ needs To Meet the Goals of Sustainable Northampton: – Traditional neighborhoods, village, and mixed-use commercial centers will need to accommodate additional units (infill) – But, it must be designed in a way that respects its surroundings and creates a "sense of place"
  11. 11. Forum #1: What We LearnedGeneral support for infill and mixed-use development in commercial and residential districts, especially in existing neighborhoods within walking distance to businesses and green spaces, because infill… Makes the city more sustainable Encourages economic development Provides affordable units for renters and income for owners Makes neighborhoods more walkableSupport for infill as long as it is compatible with neighborhoods, including: Scale Design Traffic
  12. 12. Forum #2: Why We’re HereAfter Forum #1:We considered how to create more flexible regulations that…- Allow for a greater mix of uses- Allow some new residential units and new options like cottage housing- Ensure that this happens in a way that is compatible with our neighborhoodsWe Need Community Feedback On:- Topic #1: Home Business Proposed approach to regulate home occupations in a simple, flexible way that ensures that business uses will be compatible with residential neighborhoods- Topic #2: Dimensional Standards for Infill Possible approaches to allowing for a greater variety of residential developments- Topic #3: Residential Design Standards Design standards we should have for residential development, and what types of projects they should apply to
  13. 13. Simplify Home Business Permitting What We Heard About Mixed-Uses (Forum #1) - Should be allowed in commercial and residential areas… - Provided that it is in scale and compatible with surrounding uses What We Did - Worked on zoning to allow more uses in commercial districts - Now working on more mixed-use in residential neighborhoods The key step is revising “Home Occupation” provisions. We’re proposing replacing them with what we call “Home Business.”
  14. 14. Simplify Home Business PermittingOverview of Current Regulations A home occupation does not require Special Permit only if: – No clients or customers are seen on site – There is no sign for the business – There are no sales of goods from the premises – You don’t meet or work with other people in your house If home business activity doesn’t fit this narrow definition, then a Special Permit is required to allow a small sign, sale of goods from the home, or one other person to work with you
  15. 15. Simplify Home Business PermittingGoal Allow many types of home business by right, but minimize impacts on neighborhood Allow current illegal home businesses to operate legallyStrategies Regulate auto traffic instead of clients and customers seen Don’t distinguish between types of visits (by client, employee, delivery person, contractor, etc.)
  16. 16. Simplify Home Business PermittingProposed Home Businesses Changes Allowed Without Special Permit No more than 5 automobile round trips per day can be generated by the business A one square foot sign, attached to building and not lighted, is allowed Home made goods can be sold from the premises Up to two “open studios” to sell home made goods permitted per yearSpecial Permit Required If the Home Business… Generates more than 5 automobile round trips per day Holds more than 2 open studio functions per year Stores materials outdoors (as long as not visible from street or adjacent properties)
  17. 17. Simplify Home Business PermittingBenefits for SustainabilitySupports… Infill and uses existing structures for multiple purposes Entrepreneurship, and lowers barriers to small business Equity - applies to all kinds of work equally (professional services, home made goods, etc.)Reduces… Traffic and use of nonrenewable resources – Note: A recent report states that telecommuting opportunities have increased 400% in the last three years Cost of doing business in Northampton Regulations - fewer special permits required
  18. 18. Simplify Home Business PermittingWe Need Your Feedback Does it make sense to relax the home business standards? Do you prefer an approach that regulates, based on: – A. the effects of the business on the neighborhood (e.g. number of trips generated by the business)? OR – B. use and lot characteristics? (e.g. parking requirements)
  19. 19. Dimensional Standards in Urban Residential ZonesWhat Are Dimensional Standards? – Regulations that govern development, e.g. location of buildings on a lot – Standards are different for each zone and use – examples include minimum… • Lot sizes • Setbacks, or distance between a building and the property line • Frontage, or length of property line along the street • Percentage open spaceWhat We Heard at Public Forum #1: – General support for infill development within walking distance of stores, offices, jobs, parks, bike paths, etc. – Preference for small projects over big ones (i.e. filling gaps in the street, adding units to existing houses and accessory buildings, converting large houses) – Design is important (covered later) – Traffic and infrastructure are concerns – Infill should not disproportionately affect one area of the city
  20. 20. Dimensional Standards in Urban Residential ZonesWhat We Did:- Identified Dimensional Standards as key barrier to infill development in existing neighborhoods- Studied current neighborhood dimensions in depth- Researched innovative housing development types and zoning changes being made in other cities to allow for more innovative developments- Developed proposals for changing dimensional standards
  21. 21. Dimensional Standards in Urban Residential ZonesSustainability Benefits of Dimensional Standards Changes to Allow InfillEnvironment: More people live in walking distance to goods and services = less drivingEconomy: More residents to support nearby businesses, both existing and new – (and more businesses nearby will make neighborhoods even more walkable) Rental income for property owners More disposable income due to lower car expenses (more walking = less driving)Equity: More variety of in-town housing = more people can afford to live here
  22. 22. Zoning Out Traditional NeighborhoodsWhat percentage of homes in our urban neighborhoods do not conform* to current minimum lot size zoning regulations?**URC- 63% of 1-3 family homes do not conform- 83% of 4 family homes do not conformURB Why Does this Matter?- 32% of 1 family homes do not conform - Zoning doesn’t match- 62% of 2 family homes do not conform our existing- 82% of 3 family homes do not conform neighborhoodsURA- 35% of 1 family homes do not conform - We have great urban- 100% of 2 family and multiple-family homes do neighborhoods that can not conform (they are not allowed) never be built again!*Non-Conforming refers to a property that is used or structures that are built in a way that is not permitted by the zoning for the property. The use is “grandfathered”, or permitted to continue, because the land was being used in such a fashion before the zoning law was passed.**This analysis looked only at conformance with lot size requirements. An analysis of properties that also meet minimum setback, frontage and other requirements would yield even higher rates of non-conformance
  23. 23. Zoning Out Traditional NeighborhoodsExample: Walnut Street – Properties that Do Example: Elizabeth Street – This 2-Family Not Conform to their Zoning (by lot size) Home Could Not be Built Today 84% Lot Size: 5,183 Square Feet Today, would need 12,000 SF to build this home Would need 8,000 SF to even build a single family home84% could not be built on these lots today!
  24. 24. Innovative Infill Housing NOT Allowed COTTAGE & POCKET HOUSING
  25. 25. Adaptive Reuse Infill Housing NOT Allowed Allowed Downtown, but…. Not allowed in Leeds… ADAPTIVE REUSE OF OBSOLETE BUILDINGS
  26. 26. Dimensional Standards in Urban Residential ZonesSummary: Problems with The Current Zoning The current dimensional regulations are designed to DECREASE the density of existing neighborhoods, while the sustainability plan says to INCREASE density - and that was confirmed in our last public meeting on infill Innovative housing types, especially where people have smaller homes with shared yards (e.g. cottage housing), are not allowed Adaptive reuse of obsolete structures like old churches and schools for housing is not possible in our neighborhoods
  27. 27. Dimensional Standards in Urban Residential ZonesSummary of Possible Approaches: Fix the dimensional tables – Reduce lot size, frontage, setbacks, etc. to match our existing neighborhoods better and allow infill. – Keeps the minimum lot size requirements Develop performance-based standards – Replace the dimensional tables to regulate only setbacks, parking, open space (and design). – Gets rid of the minimum lot size requirements – Allows new units no matter what lot size exists, if you meet the performance standards Create a special permit for infill – Using either approach above, ONLY allow new units on a case-by- case basis through – Planning Board special permit - Could be used to test above methods
  28. 28. Existing Zoning: URB 2-family Minimum Lot: 12,000 SFExample Zoning Change: URB 2-familySmaller frontage, setbacks and lot sizeMinimum Lot: 8,000 SF
  29. 29. Existing Zoning: URB 1-family Minimum Lot: 8,000 SFExample Zoning Change: URB 1-familySmaller frontage, setbacks and lot sizeMinimum Lot: 6,000 SF
  30. 30. Infill and Innovative Dvpts in NeighborhoodsPerformance-Based Zoning ApproachThis approach does not regulate number of units per lot areaIf you meet setback, parking and open space requirements, you can build your project Also provides an easy approach to allow for innovative developments like cottage housing without requiring a special permit.
  31. 31. Dimensional Standards in Urban Residential ZonesConsiderations: Changing the Dimensional Standards to Allow Infill Brings our traditional neighborhoods into greater conformance with our zoning regulations, and allows good neighborhoods to be reproduced Allows flexible reuse of existing buildings and properties in face of changing household sizes and needs More people in neighborhoods makes a community more vibrant and increases safety through more “eyes on the street” Residents of neighborhoods where you can walk to services and jobs drive less, but there are more total drivers New construction can be beautiful and add to the “sense of place” of the neighborhood, but sometimes neighbors don’t like the way a particular project looks (design is discussed later) Reduces the need for expensive new infrastructure, but also increases use of existing infrastructure
  32. 32. Dimensional Standards in Urban Residential ZonesWhere We Need Your Feedback: Should the dimensional standards be revised to bring the zoning closer to what exists in Northamptons existing neighborhoods? Which dimensional standards are most important to you? For example: – how close houses are to each other – how close houses are to the street – how much street frontage houses have – how big lots are – where parking is located and how much there is Should new dimensional standards apply by right, or should they only be available by special permit? If changes to dimensional standards allow for more units to be added to existing neighborhoods, what are your concerns? How can we address these concerns to make one of our proposed methods or another strategy work for you?
  33. 33. Residential Design StandardsWhat are design standards?Design standards are regulations that can govern how development should lookExamples include how buildings should be sited and configured on a lot, how tall and how bulky the structure should be, and what architectural details should be presentHow do design standards work?- Development plans are reviewed based on whether they meet the design standards- For example, all plans in the Central Business zoning district are reviewed for compliance with the city’s Design Guidelines for the districtSustainability Goal: Promote design that fits into neighborhoods so that new development makes the city a better place.
  34. 34. Forum #1: What We Learned Design is important! The zoning should encourage infill that…. – Is in scale and architectural character with its surroundings – Has a similar relationship to the street as neighboring structures Residents more likely to accept infill if there is assurance through design standards that it will fit in with their neighborhood House 030.jpg
  35. 35. Residential Design StandardsPossible Zoning Solutions:Apply design standards to… – All development in neighborhoods – Developments over a certain size, e.g. projects that renovate or add more than 700 square feet – Only to new buildings – Only to infill that requires a special permit (only to new buildings, additions or units not currently allowed by right )Create standards that are… – Detailed and specific e.g. require specific architectural details – General and less specific, evaluating general “fit” with the neighborhood e.g. based on existing conditions on that block
  36. 36. Examples of Residential Design StandardsSpringfield, Massachusetts Residential Design GuidelinesSite layout, materials, architectural detailing and other characteristicsKnoxville, Tennessee Infill Housing Design GuidelinesSite layout, parking, materials, building scale, porches, roof shapes, landscaping, etc.
  37. 37. Residential Design StandardsList of Possible Items Covered by DesignStandards:– Splitting large lots into two narrower lots– Building and front façade height– Setbacks– Size and front setbacks for porches–Location of front door and walkway to street– Size and position of windows– Location of garage or parking area– Roof shape–Location and height ofadditions– Design of multi-unitbuildings / townhomes– Standards for modernarchitecture homes
  38. 38. Residential Design StandardsWe Need Community Feedback On….Would you be comfortable with regulations on the design of projects in your neighborhood and on your property?What kinds or what scale of projects should design standards apply to? (e.g. all projects, projects of a certain size, only infill special permit projects, other ideas?)How detailed should the design standards be?Should they require specific details OR evaluate general “fit” with the neighborhood?Should they allow only traditional architectural styles OR encourage modern architecture too?Should they be the same for the whole city OR based on other homes in each neighborhood?
  39. 39. Residential Design Standards Would you be comfortable with regulations about the design of projects in your neighborhood and on your property? What kinds of projects should design standards apply to? (e.g. all projects, projects of a certain size, only infill special permit projects, other ideas?) What aspects of design are important to you? – Site design (e.g. how close houses are to each other, how buildings relate to the street) – Or building design (e.g. roof shape, window placement and size, porches, architecture) How detailed should the design standards be? Should design standards be proscriptive? In other words, the standards will detail what applicants can and cant do. OR Should it be left up to the applicant to make a case for how their project "fits" into the neighborhood? Applications would be reviewed by staff or a board who would have some discretion to make subjective decisions.