Champaign council OKs creation of zoning amendment on house-to-lot ratios

Champaign council OKs creation of zoning amendment on house-to-lot ratios

CHAMPAIGN — After occasionally tense meetings on the matter, Champaign city staffers are ready to move forward and prepare changes to citywide zoning rules.

Late Tuesday, council members voted to craft a zoning amendment that could change regulations on how big a development can be for its lot size.

The decision comes after several residents, mainly from the Clark Park neighborhood, expressed concerns about new developments that they deem different from typical Clark Park building characteristics.

The plan is to replace "floor-area ratio" rules with new ones called "maximum lot coverage." City staff say that the latter is a more commonly used standard.

The city defines floor-area ratio as a building's gross floor area — excluding attached garages, utility areas and underground living space — divided by the lot area it sits on.

Maximum lot coverage, on the other hand, is defined as a building's footprint area — including attached garages and utility areas inside the home only — divided by the lot area. The most a building could have is 35 percent lot coverage.

Associate city planner Eric VanBuskirk said the amendment will be drafted with input from city residents and local developers.

"We weren't given a specific deadline," VanBuskirk said about completing the draft. "We were not told to delay other projects or adjust current work schedules for this."

Several Clark Park residents heavily criticized the maximum lot coverage idea at a public meeting last week. They don't like how, as written now, it would allow for a house that's upward of 6,000 square feet.

But along with its vote, the council did ask for tweaks to the current maximum lot coverage plan. Clark Park resident Bill Stewart said he's ready to provide some ideas.

"I was disappointed with the council vote," Stewart said. "I was hoping they'd ask for further public involvement first, but in the end maybe this will all work out. ... It depends how deep they go with their public input in the next round."

Other new requirements are bundled in with the maximum lot coverage proposal:

— Limiting single-family homes to being two-and-a-half stories high.

— Reducing house-side setbacks from six feet to five.

— Having setback flexibility that allows access to detached rear garages.

— Creating context-sensitive front yard setbacks that take into account the current 25-foot regulation and fitting in with the aesthetic of a neighborhood.

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