City reinstates public hearing for multi-unit housing in neighborhoods

At the site of a controversial redevelopment project in the Volker neighborhood, shattered trees, dirt, rocks and a dumpster now stand where a home and large trees were before. The Plan Commission yesterday voted to make changes in the zoning code to give neighborhoods more input into multi-unit housing but it’s unclear what effect the change will have on the project at 3616 Bell.

The City Planning Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved changes to the zoning codes that would reinstate a public hearing process for multi-unit housing in residential neighborhoods.

City planners requested the changes, which now go to the city council for final approval.

The changes were prompted by the outcry after a developer razed a vacant house in the Volker neighborhood to make way for a planned rental building with up to eight units.

Under existing codes that went into effect Jan. 1, 2011, the developer needed only city staff approval to build the multi-family unit. Codes in effect before the effort to streamline development would have required a public hearing process.

At the hearing Monday, former Volker president George Niewrzel said the changes voted through in 2010 were an ill advised attempt to fix something that was not broken.

Plans for a multi-unit house developers wanted to build in the Volker neighborhood. The city has denied the building permit, but the develop still has the option to appeal taht decision.

“We didn’t feel there was any need to streamline multi-family coming into our neighborhood,” he said.

It is unclear what effect, if any, the proposed new changes would have on plans for the multi-family unit proposed for 3616 Bell St.

On Friday, the city denied the permit for the building, saying it did not meet other zoning requirements for multi-unit houses in residential neighborhoods.

Neighbors complain that plans show a building that looks like a motel.

Besides requiring public meetings, the proposed changes include a paragraph addressing that issue for at least future projects: “Architecture of the multi-unit house shall be designed in context with and reflect the predominant characteristics of other residential buildings within 500 feet . . “

Melissa Koch, a Volker resident who also addressed the commission, later praised the changes but said damage was already done at Volker.

“They turned the lot into a wasteland,” she said.

previous stories

Building permit at 3616 Bell denied

Volker neighbors continue protests over multi-unit house

City’s “multi-unit house” zoning becomes an issue in Volker


Comments are closed.