STAFF PERSON:                                                               Elaine K. Echols, AICP

PLANNING COMMISSION PUBLIC HEARING:           April 22, 2008          



ZTA 07-01:  Request for Zero Lot Line for Side Yard Setback (See Attachment A)


ORIGIN:  Application was made in January of 2007 by Frank Cox on behalf of Hunter Craig (Attachment B).  The Planning Commission discussed the proposed amendment on June 12, 2007 (Attachment C) and December 14, 2007(Attachment D).  The Commission approved the resolution (Attachment E), asked the staff to check with the Building Official on two items and asked staff to proceed with drafting an ordinance amendment.


PROPOSAL:  The proposed ordinance amendment would change the side yard setback requirement from 10 feet to zero feet, on one side of the lot only, in R-2, R-4, R-6, R10, and R-15 zoning districts under certain conditions.  Definitions are provided for “zero lot line” and “zero lot line development”.  The zero lot line option is only available in a “zero lot line development”. 


Conditions for approval are:

        The proposal must be shown on a subdivision plat that shows all lots in the zero lot line development and delineating the location of each unit

        Buildings must have at least a 10-foot separation

        A 10-foot maintenance easement must be provided on the lot abutting the zero lot line side of the dwelling unit


The amendment also deletes the requirement for a reduction of side yard setback where structures are within a four-mile radius of a responding fire station and the reference that buildings must conform to the Building Code.  (Conformity with the Building Code is already a requirement.)


PUBLIC PURPOSE TO BE SERVED:  The proposal helps to implement the Neighborhood Model by providing more opportunities for compact development within the County’s designated development areas.


BACKGROUND:  After the Neighborhood Model was approved in 2002, the County began a process of amending the subdivision and zoning ordinances to help implement the Neighborhood Model and provide more flexibility in designs to provide greater density in the development areas.  Since that time, the ordinances have been amended to allow for alleys, reduce the amount of required parking spaces, allow for greater flexibility in how parking spaces are provided, allow applicants to apply for a Neighborhood Model (traditional neighborhood development type) zoning district designation, require curb, gutter, sidewalks, and street trees in single-family residential developments in the development areas, and require interconnections in the development areas.


County staff had been working with the Commission on modifying front yards, setbacks, and buffers in all zoning districts but RA and VR.  The applicant asked that the Commission advance this zero lot line proposal ahead of the other setback changes.  Staff and the Commission broadened the zero lot line proposal to make it available in all districts but RA and VR in the development areas and simplified the applicant’s proposed amendment. 


At their December 4, 2007 meeting, the Commission asked staff to ask whether the Building Code would allow for a pool within a 10’ side yard.   Staff has ascertained that the area would be available for a pool as long as it was fenced.  The Commission also asked staff to modify wording related to wall/fences that create an atrium. 


STAFF COMMENT:  In addition to providing the option for zero lot line development, the attached amendment removed confusing language from the last draft seen by the Commission that related to walls and fences that create an atrium.  As previously stated, the amendment also deletes the requirement for a reduction of side yard setback where only where structures are within a four-mile radius of a responding fire station and the reference to the need for conformity with the Building Code.  The requirement for conformity with the Building Code exists elsewhere in the County Code and the Building Code covers the construction elements necessary for building separation of only 10 feet.  For these reasons, the section of the ordinance being deleted is not necessary.


Staff believes that the proposed amendment reflects all of the changes requested by the Commission and also meets the needs of the applicant who requested the zoning text amendment.


Administration / Review Process:  This process will not be changed by the ZTA other than creating an additional side yard setback option that, when utilized, will have to be measured differently.


Housing Affordability:  The proposed changes should not have an impact on housing affordability except to allow an additional design option to the mix of designs already available for affordable housing.


Implications to Staffing / Staffing Costs:  The addition of the option for zero  lot line development should not increase staff time or costs to applicants.  The proposed change alters the way in which setback measurements take place; however, it doed not increase the amount of work involved.



STAFF RECOMMENDATION:  Staff recommends adoption of the draft ordinance found in Attachment A.




Attachment A:            Draft Zero Lot Line Ordinance Amendment dated 4-2-08

Attachment B:            Application for Zoning Text Amendment

Attachment C:            Planning Commission minutes from June 12, 2007

Attachment D:            Planning Commission minutes from December 4, 2007

Attachment E:            Resolution of Intent December 4, 2007 by the Planning Commission.


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