November 14, 2002

front page
more news
ad information
contact information


Planning board calls for easing zoning restrictions on small lots

Planning Commission Monday approved a proposal amending one section of the Village Zoning Code to make it easier for property owners to build housing on small, substandard lots in Yellow Springs.

During a public hearing Nov. 11, plan board unanimously agreed to recommend that Village Council loosen the restrictions placed on lots less than 60 feet wide. The proposal only deals with existing lots and does not address new lots that could be created through other means, such as lot splits.

Council, which has final say over changes to the Zoning Code, will now take up the measure and must approve it for the proposal to become law.

In August, in an effort to spark residential growth in town, Council asked Planning Commission to review the Village’s restrictions on small lots. Plan board members responded by passing one proposal Monday, saying they would consider a more substantial proposal, which could allow housing to be built on more small lots, to change the minimum zoning requirements,

A study conducted several years ago by local resident Ilse Tebbetts reported that there were approximately 80 50-foot lots in town, though it is unclear how many meet zoning standards.

The proposal would remove three restrictions in section 1266.06 of the code, which governs nonconforming lots of record, or parcels, that are recorded with the Greene County recorder’s office but do not meet current Village zoning standards. Around town, these types of lots are informally called 50-foot lots because many are 50 feet wide.

The three requirements that may be removed from the code limit who can build on these substandard lots.

Currently, the Zoning Code allows single-family houses to be built on lots that are at least 75 feet wide in Residence A and 60 feet wide in Residences B and C.

If Council approves the proposal, zoning laws would allow single-family housing to be built on existing lots of record that are 50 feet wide in Residence A and 40 feet wide in Residences B and C. Property owners would still have to meet other zoning requirements, such as setback, before getting approval to build housing on these small lots.

According to a Village zoning map, Residence B is the largest residential zoning district in Yellow Springs and includes most of the central and northern area of town. Residence B allows for medium-density, single-, two- and three-family and multifamily residential development as well as row house residential development.

Residence C includes the neighborhood around Mills Lawn School and near downtown. Residence C allows for high-density, one-, two- and three-family and multifamily residential development as well as row house development.

Residence A includes the south end of town and the far western and northern neighborhoods in Yellow Springs. Residence A allows for medium-density single-family residential development.

During the public hearing Monday, two local residents spoke out against the proposal. Elizabeth Goode said the Village should not consider the proposal until after a community visioning process takes place. Council is organizing a visioning process to help villagers define their goals for the future.

Ann Gayek said she likes the open lots that are frequently found in town because they provide pockets of green space. Filling in the village with houses “would be a loss,” she said.

The Planning Commission chair, John Struewing, said the proposal would not create a “huge change in the village.” He also pointed out that certain areas of Yellow Springs were designed to have parcels that are 50 feet wide.

In 1981, the Village Zoning Code was changed and the minimum requirements for lot widths were increased to the current standards.

—Robert Mihalek