Butchers Hill weighs in on zoning

Written by on March 13, 2013 in Featured, Neighborhood News - No comments

The Butchers Hill Association has formally opposed a provision of the city’s proposed zoning overhaul that would allow Butchers Hill homes to take up more lot space without an appeal.

The new zoning code, which will be heard by City Council for the first time next month, would modify Butchers Hill’s R-9 zone to allow any given rowhouse to cover 80 percent of its lot, up from the 60 percent maximum in effect today.

“It may not be bad,” said Land Use Committee Chair Virgil Bartram, “but for a lot of next-door neighbors, it may affect their backyards negatively.”

Bartram noted that Butchers Hill has a large variety of lot and house sizes, and that a large house covering 80 percent of its lot could easily overshadow its smaller neighbors.

“It is reasonable to consider one- or two-story additions on many smaller houses covering 80 percent or even more of their lots,” reads the February Butchers Hill Association newsletter. “But Butchers Hill also contains many lots over 100 feet long, that if built out over 80 percent of their lot size may result in the loss of open, green, permeable yards and over-sized buildings that could take away from the livability of surrounding neighbors’ yards.”

At issue for the association, it appears, is not so much the idea of allowing more lot coverage, but the removal of the public zoning appeal process for certain big additions.

“I think the ability to have a say is the important thing that we always maintain,” said resident Sandy Sales.

At the association’s March 6 meeting, the body voted to go on record opposing the provision in the proposed zoning code that would increase allowed lot coverage from 60 percent to 80 percent.

The city’s Planning Department will make final amendments to the bill on March 21. On April 3, City Council hears the bill for the first time.

by Erik Zygmont

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