Woodside council sends basement ordinance back for more work


The Woodside Town Council, for the fourth time this year, put off taking the first of two steps to adopt an ordinance to regulate the size and location of residential basements.

On a unanimous vote on March 22, with Councilman Peter Mason absent, the council sent the ordinance back to staff for revisions, including adding a provision meant to improve the circumstances for someone wanting to build a small basement.

Under the revised ordinance, a site development permit will not be needed if the basement is 25 percent or less of the largest basement allowed for the main house. Site development permits can be onerous in that they engage the town's engineering department for technical analysis of a project's drainage, geology or grading in anticipation of a substantial alteration to the site.

Resident and architect Steve Lubin, who was in the audience, proposed the idea of small-basement exclusion. Council members, when their turns came to comment, all showed support for it.

In the same action, the council addressed updates to grading calculations, and expressed support for another of Mr. Lubin's ideas: that gravel-surfaced driveways be allowed on slopes of 5 percent or less, up from the current limit of 3 percent. The current restriction is "a ridiculously low cut-off," Mr. Lubin said, provided that the driveway be designed so as to prevent gravel from being tracked onto a paved road.

The draft ordinance included a provision, deliberated in February, allowing up to 65 percent of a basement to be located beyond the footprint of the main house.

Before voting to approve the ordinance's draft revisions, Councilwoman Anne Kasten said she preferred an extension allowance of 50 percent rather than 65 percent. In changing her view, Ms. Kasten joined councilmen Dave Tanner and Peter Mason, both of whom were on the council subcommittee that came up with the regulatory skeleton for the proposed ordinance.

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