At the October 9 City Council meeting, City Planner Christian Miller gave a concise presentation on a proposed change in the Zoning code to address house scale concerns.
By Robin Jovanovich and Tom McDermott
At the October 9 City Council meeting, City Planner Christian Miller gave a concise presentation on a proposed change in the Zoning code to address house scale concerns. The community came out for this public agenda discussion — builders, architects, members of City commissions, residents who have witnessed sizable changes in their neighborhoods with the addition of big new homes and have been frustrated by the process and disappointed that those projects were approved.
The City Planner said there is no proposal to change FAR (Floor Area Ratio) calculations but this will change how it is measured. “Most communities regulate parts of the homes you can see.”
Miller explained that the Planning Commission fully supported the amendment. He noted that the last time the City fully examined the Zoning Code was in 2003.
According to the City Planner, ten years after the adoption of Rye’s Zoning Code amendments there continue to be concerns regarding the bulk and scale of residential construction amid very active building in the town. Many residential applications involve substantial renovations or demolitions of existing residences and construction of new homes that are significantly larger than the homes they replaced. In many cases the proposed gross floor area is only a few square feet shy of the maximum permitted.
In the proposal, the ceiling height provision in attics changes to seven feet. It also addresses concerns related to the scale and height of attic spaces associated with some new residential construction. Rye currently counts 50% of attic space where headroom exceed seven-foot-six-inches and the space is greater than seven feet wide. The proposal would also regulate dormers within attics, if the finished attic floor is five feet or more below the bottom of the roof rafters.
Under the draft local law, floor area would be counted in many instances where today it is not. This will result in some existing properties adopted under the current or former law to become legally non-conforming.
“We’re trying to craft something the community wants and consider the intended and unintended consequences,” said Miller. “We expect impact in the form of softened roof pitches, changes of roof type, less use of attic dormers and smaller footprints.
“This was actively discussed in 2003. We’re bringing it back.”
During long question and comment periods, many members had a chance to express their views. The public hearing remains open and will be on the Council’s October 23 agenda.