Monday, August 4, 2008

What Others Are Doing ...

This from Wilton CT:

Zoners consider refining regulations
Written by Justin Reynolds
How big can an accessory apartment or building be on a lot? How long should temporary signs be allowed to stay up? What are the criteria to determine whether an older home is historically significant or could be torn down to make room for a McMansion?

Aiming to refine zoning regulations, the Planning and Zoning Commission met last week to debate recommendations put forth by Glenn Chalder, consultant with Planimetrics, who is also helping the commission draft a new Plan of Conservation and Development.

Mr. Chalder said if a property owner seeks to add an accessory building on his or her property, current language in the regulations limit the property owner to construction of either 25% of the main building’s square footage or 750 square feet. He said the town should consider changing the language to state the size of the accessory building should be limited to the lesser of those two numbers.
Commissioner Doug Bayer said for some properties the 25% number could lead to “gargantuan” buildings, and suggested lowering the percentage but accepted changing the language to the lesser value of the two options.

If a building that “makes sense” for a property works out to 800 square feet instead of 750 square feet, the resident could apply for a special permit, Mr. Chalder said. For most people, this would be enough to deter from seeking the larger building as they would not want to come before the commission, Mr. Chalder said.

“I think you could go with a little more square footage,” Mr. Chalder said of the 750 number.

Commissioner Marilyn Gould suggested increasing the number to 900 square feet and the other commissioners agreed.

Other regulations

Mr. Chalder suggested the town look into hiring a third party to independently review buildings and give their opinion as to whether certain buildings fit criteria as being architecturally or historically significant.

They’ll either say it clearly is significant, it clearly isn’t significant or they’ll have no opinion, he said.

Ms. Gould said work had already been done by the Wilton Historical Society in 1989 when the organization hired an architectural historian who reviewed 343 structures. Ms. Gould said the society had hoped to review 100 additional houses.

“All of our very livable houses of the 1950s are teardowns,” Ms. Gould said, adding houses built in the ’50s and ’60s are important in Wilton’s history. “Any history has to be maintained.”

Ms. Pratt said preserving architectural history is a nationwide problem.

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