The Woodside Town Council chose not to adopt a moratorium Tuesday on super-sized basements while the town updates basement regulations that date to the 1980s.
The council met in a study session April 14, likely the first of several on this topic, to consider a town staff recommendation to adopt an urgency ordinance temporarily limiting approval of new basements to the conventional variety that stays within the footprint of the structure above.
The town has seen the construction of 40 basements since 2009, an average of seven a year, Planning Director Jackie Young told the council. But the planning department has received nine basement applications in the first quarter of 2015, including three after the news of the study session and the possibility of an urgency ordinance was made public, Ms. Young said.
The impacts of basement construction on neighbors, on the water table, on the land itself and on the roads from large dump trucks are among the concerns that face staff, the Planning Commission and Architectural and Site Review Board.
Members of both panels attended the meeting and contributed to the discussion.
The council considered an ordinance that would have used existing maximums for house sizes as a reference point, allowing those maximums to apply to basements, and allowing up to 50 percent of a basement to extend beyond the footprint of an above-ground structure.
The vote was 5-2 in favor, with Mayor Tom Shanahan and Councilman Dave Burow dissenting. Because the ordinance had not been on the agenda and therefore classified as urgent, Town Attorney Jean Savaree told the council, it needed a four-fifths vote to pass six votes if all seven members of the council were present, which they were.
A longer term effort to update the basements regulations will continue, but without a moratorium.
The staff gave the council a list of basement proposals the town has seen over the last several years, including one that was approved in 2013 a nearly 14,000-square-foot basement on Mountain Wood Lane. The underground structure included a six-car garage and three bathrooms along with a bunkroom, two powder rooms, a family room, a media room, an exercise room, a massage room, an office, a pantry, a wine cellar, storage and lightwell courtyards, according to a staff report.
Click here for the staff report prepared for this study session. Turn to Page 9 for the list of basement proposals.