The Huntersville Planning Commission last night voted unanimously to recommend approval of an ordinance to amend the Town’s residential aesthetic requirements, but in a manner that REBIC believes is insufficient to comply with a new state law.
In making its recommendation, the commission rejected an alternative proposal agreed upon by REBIC and Town planners than would have further reduced requirements for the construction of alleys in single-family neighborhoods. Commissioners argued that town’s aesthetic appeal would be negatively impacted by the allowance of front-entry garages on lots 50′ or wider, effectively challenging the General Assembly to take further action to limit their authority.
The ordinance amendments under consideration result from the passage last year of S.L. 2015-86 by the North Carolina General Assembly, which prohibits local governments from imposing design standards on single-family homes, duplexes and townhomes. The design elements prohibited under the law include, among other things, ‘exterior building color, type of exterior cladding material, and location or architectural styling of windows and doors, including garage doors …’ (emphasis ours).
Currently, Huntersville’s zoning ordinance requires all single-family homes built on lots wider than 60′ to recess the garage at least 10′ behind the front facade of the structure, and requires an alley-loaded garage on lots narrower than 60′ in width.
Unfortunately, the proposed amendment recommended for approval by the Planning Commission does not go far enough to bring Huntersville in compliance with the new state aesthetics law. While the draft language makes no mention of garage placement, it would still require the construction of alleys to serve lots narrower than 60′, effectively dictating that those homes have rear-access garages.
REBIC asked commissioners last night to approve an alternative proposal, negotiated with staff, that required alleys only on lots 50′ or narrower, while limiting driveways to a width of 12′ at ROW for all lots 60′ and narrower. While we believe this compromise language also fails to meet the intent of the state aesthetics law, we view it as preferable to the total elimination of 50′ and 60′ lots from the Town’s zoning ordinance.
REBIC was disappointed at the Planning Commission’s action, but will continue to work with staff and the Board of Commissioners ahead of its March 7th vote on the ordinance.