Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Additional Permitted Use (APU) - an open letter to City Council

RE: Agenda Item 13 Re: Land Use Code Change Section 1.3.4 Addition of Permitted Uses

Dear Mayor Weitkunat and Council Members,
We are writing to comment on the June 3rd suggested changes to the Land Use Code.  A committee of our members reviewed the proposed changes to the Code and our comments are below.  We also sent comments on this issue to the Planning and Zoning Board in May concerning needed changes.

Protect Our Old Town homes supports the zoning of residential neighborhoods that allows for fewer land uses and more restrictions than other zones.  Residential zoning protects our homes from incompatible uses and provides predictability for changes in neighboring properties. We believe the Addition of Permitted Use (APU) rules, especially when applied in residential zoning districts, have the effect of spot re-zoning in that it allows a single property to increase its market value by upzoning to additional land uses, while likely lowering the adjacent and nearby residential market values. 

Homeowners put their life savings into purchasing their homes, which are the biggest investment most families make, and they expect their investment to be protected from incompatible uses by zoning. They also expect that new uses in their residential zone will be residential uses similar to their own (e.g. single-family homes).  The adoption of zoning regulations by local governments is intended to protect residential property values, among other purposes, and to make land use changes more predictable for land owners and developers alike.   The APU current and proposed rules allow residential properties to be upzoned to a “higher and better use”, which in turn increases the property value of that single property, and in many cases, lowers or caps the property values of adjacent or nearby homes for residential use.  In other words, a single family home next to a commercial or multi-family land use, loses value as a single family home as a secondary impact of the upzoning allowed by the APU. The APU process also causes homeowners and neighborhoods to have to maintain an undesired level of vigilance for every new development, redevelopment, and infill proposal or change of property ownership in their neighborhood.  We believe the APU negates the underlying purposes and goals of residential zoning and is unfair to residential neighborhoods. 

Protect Our Old Town Homes also believes the elimination of the applicability of the APU in residential zones would better protect our historic homes in Old Town by maintaining the residential character of the neighborhoods and by decreasing the  market pressures to upzone residential lots for higher density residential or commercial uses. Finally, this issue is not just an Old Town issue. Eliminating the applicability of Additional Permitted Uses for all residential zones would also greatly benefit other residential neighborhoods across the city.

Allowing for Additional Permitted Uses as is stated in the current and proposed amendments to the Land Use Code (LUC) negates the underlying zoning, removes the predictability of future, compatible residential land use developments, infill or redevelopment, and we believe should be removed from applicability in the residential zoning districts. 

Suggested Changes
POOTH recommends that Land Use Code Section 1.3.4. be amended to remove the following nine Districts from applicability, i.e. to apply the Addition of Permitted Uses to all zones except the following Districts:
·       Neighborhood Conservation, Low Density (N-C-L)
·       Neighborhood Conservation, Medium Density (N-C-M)
·       Low Density Residential (R-L)
·       Rural Land Use (R-U-L)
·       Urban Estate (U-E)
·       Residential Foothills Development (R-F)
·       Low Density Mixed –Use Neighborhood (L-M-N)
·       Medium Density Mixed-Use Neighborhood (M-M-N)
·       Neighborhood Conservation Buffer (N-C-B).

Finally, Protect Our Old Town Homes believes that if the Addition of Permitted Uses section is amended to remove applicability for these residential zones, that this change will protect residential property values, reduce neighborhood conflict and delays to appropriate development/redevelopment proposals, and provide more predictability for both neighborhoods and prospective property owners seeking to use a property for a particular use.

We ask that the City Council remove the Additional Permitted Uses applicability from residential districts as part of the proposed Land Use Code amendments and update.


Gina C. Janett

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