September 19, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 22

Cheney commissioners get 'high' level review of high density codes

Golden Hills platting wasn’t the only item on the Cheney Planning Commission’s Sept. 9 agenda. Commission members continued their whirlwind review of the city’s zoning codes, or as planner Brett Lucas put it, the “30,000 foot overview.”

Most of the changes in the nine code chapters reviewed by the commission were administrative having to do with language, numbering, etc. Two chapters, Multi-Family Residential (R-3) and High Density Multi-Family Residential (R-3H) were combined into one – High Density (R-3 and R-3H) Zones, Chapter 21.24.

New in this chapter were requirements for minimum and maximum net densities for newly created lots. R-3 lots require a minimum density of one unit per 5,750 square feet or eight units per acre, and maximum density of one unit per 3,111 square feet, 14 units per acre.

R-3H minimum density is set at one unit per 2,900 square feet, 15 units per acre, with no maximum net density established. Lucas said the codes have requirements in landscaping, parking and other areas that will keep the maximum unit density in R-3H in check.

As part of development standards the building coverage ratio has been changed from 35 percent of the lot to 45 percent to help add flexibility. Height of primary and accessory structures has changed, as has the requirement that parking not be within the front or side yard areas, a major shift from the current code that allows such parking, Lucas said.

Manufactured homes are permitted in the R-3 zone as long as they conform to placement standards. As in other residential code sections, zero lot line developments are also allowed, something Lucas said larger cities tend to do, and smaller ones such as Liberty Lake are beginning to follow suit.

“I think it allows flexibility, especially with smaller lots,” Commissioner Keith Fauerso said.

Lucas pointed to requirements for multi-family dwelling units as on of the most important parts of the chapter, particularly regarding reduction of the visual impact of such developments through building articulation. Five ways of doing this were listed, including varying roof sizes and projecting or recessed architectural elements including windows and doors, eliminating the “box” apartment look.

“Similar to what we have at Eagle Point,” Lucas said, pointing to an example of the new code. “Those have some articulation.”

The commission also reviewed changes to the Planned Unit Development Chapter 21.39, including a requirement for presenting a development concept plan to the city for approval prior to establishment of the PUD. Public Works Director Todd Ableman said the idea of a conceptual plan is different from an engineering document, and should answer the question “Why this needs to be a PUD.”

Criteria include content, architectural and site design, transportation system capacity, availability of public services, protection of designated resources, compatibility with adjacent uses and mitigation of off-site impacts. The new requirements also gave the Planning Commission authority to set a timeline for developing the site in phases, not to exceed a total of seven years from the date the original PUD conceptual plan was approved.

Requirements for a solid waste collection plan were included as was language that encourages developers to provide energy efficiency provisions.

A section was added to the General Provisions Chapter 21.48 that established standards for residents wishing to use shipping “Pods,” portable moving containers, standards the city does not currently have. Pods may be permitted in driveways of the residence for up to 14 days.

Lucas also said the city will look at performance standards in the Home Occupations Chapter 21.59 that limit employment in home occupations to the residents presiding in the home. Commission chair Vince Barthels felt this was restricting small home businesses employing limited help, and wanted to see flexibility offered.

Commissioners voted to move their regular meeting from Nov. 11 to Nov. 18 because of Veteran’s Day.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

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