Atherton council endorses compromise plan for Parker Avenue zoning


The question of allowable house size on Atherton's Parker Avenue has been hotly debated for years, but may finally be near resolution with a compromise proposal unanimously embraced by the City Council last night (Sept. 15).

Parker Avenue lots are less than 10,000 square feet, making them atypical of most Atherton lots, which are about one acre. However, Parker Avenue's zoning is R1-A, which allows bigger houses on lots larger than 10,000 square feet, but significantly restricts buildings on smaller lots.

About half of Parker Avenue residents say they want more flexibility to build additions and garages, and have urged the town to either change the R1-A zoning rules that now apply to their street, or to change their street's zoning to R1-B, which is a zoning applied to a small number of Atherton streets, mostly surrounding Town Hall, that have lots smaller than one acre.

The other residents, as well as residents on surrounding streets, have opposed the idea.

The question has gone before the council and Planning Commission numerous times in the last two years, with the commission twice recommending against the change and the council wavering in its decision.

Last night, the council endorsed a compromise plan, put forward by Mayor Kathy McKeithen but identical to one proposed by Councilman Charles Marsala in March 2009, that would reduce the front setback requirements of the current zoning, allowing residents to extend their houses frontward.

The compromise plan would not change the rear setbacks, addressing the concerns of residents on surrounding streets who feared houses would be extended to the rear and diminish their privacy.

The plan would also slightly reduce the allowable building space on a second-floor addition, but would, overall, give homeowners an additional 547 square feet of floor space.

The plan will now go before the Planning Commission; Mayor McKeithen pushed for a review and recommendation by the commission in time for the council to take final action by November, before a new council is seated.

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