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Atherton zoning: basements, floor area limits

Original post made by andrea gemmet, Almanac staff writer, on Feb 27, 2008

The Town of Atherton is holding an interactive public workshop to discuss the pending Zoning Code update at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5, at Holbrook-Palmer Park in the Jennings Pavilion. The workshop will address regulations for lightwells and retaining walls and the calculation of floor area.

This workshop is the second in a series of three to educate and discuss the Zoning Code update in Atherton.

The first interactive workshop, held on February 6, was a great success with over 50 attendees, said the town's consultant. The workshop topics that were discussed were a revised process for height determination and regulations of dormers.

The Zoning Code provides regulations for building locations and size.

Information on the upcoming workshops can be found on the Town's Web site at Web Link. Town residents will also receive an invitation to the workshop in the mail.

A lightwell is a patio that extends off the basement and is below the natural elevation of the site. They are open to the air above and are not considered a structural component to the home.

Current retaining wall regulations call for the maximum height to be six feet. When multiple retaining walls are used, such as on a hillside, the walls must be spaced a minimum of 20 feet from each other.
Floor area is the area of all floors of a building or the area covered by an open structure. The calculation is currently made to the outside perimeter of exterior walls or roof and can, under certain circumstances, include overhangs.

"It's the Town's intent to preserve the overall historic character of Atherton and make the process fair and predictable for homeowners," said Christopher Jordan, consultant to the Town. "We hope the residents will participate in these workshops and provide us with their perspectives."

The third meeting on Zoning Code will be held at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 9, at Holbrook-Palmer Park in the Jennings Pavilion. The results of the community input will be presented to the General Plan Committee, Planning Commission, and City Council in the spring.


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