The Woodside Planning Department has worked out a compromise for the Glens neighborhood that it hopes will satisfy people who want to expand their homes while maintaining reasonable limits to please those who want to minimize the effects of growth.
The Planning Commission reviewed the proposal developed by the department at a hearing Wednesday, Oct. 2, which will come back to the commission one more time on Oct. 16 before the Town Council takes it under consideration, probably in November, according to Sage Schaan, principal planner with the town.
Under the proposal, maximum home sizes in the Glens could be increased on a sliding scale, according to the staff report on the proposed new rules.
A home on the 3,850-square-foot lot, the smallest in the neighborhood, could have a maximum floor area of 1,940 square feet, while a residence on a 14,000-square-foot lot could have up to 3,000 square feet of floor area.
Homes with 14,000- to 20,000-square-foot lots would be allowed to expand to 3,000 square feet, while homes with lots that are larger than 20,000 square feet could increase to a maximum of 4,200 square feet in size.
The plan would also provide incentives for owners of homes with less than 3,000 square feet of total floor area to build garages, but not be required to count the floor area of the garage toward the maximum floor area of the house.
The proposal also allows setbacks from the street and property lines as low as 5 feet for homes on the smallest lots.
About 73% of all existing building footprints are set off to one side of the lot, according to the staff report.
"Continuing along nonconforming setback lines would preserve the existing development pattern, thereby maintaining open space and privacy," according to the report.
Parking on the road right of way will also count as on-site parking toward a requirement of having four on-site parking spaces per home.
The road right-of-way can include utility poles, electric lines and sidewalks that are outside the paved portion of the road, Schaan said.
The proposed new rules come after a year of discussion, site visitations and hearings involving residents who want to expand their properties, but the proposal still received opposition at the meeting from some residents concerned about traffic congestion, creating and preserving escape routes during an emergency, parking, noise and other factors.
"Over time, larger properties will result in greater population and more cars," said Glens resident Harvey Rosenthal. "The proposal for increased house size is untenable with vehicles in the roadway impeding traffic and emergency vehicles being unable to negotiate our substandard roads."
Others disagreed, pointing to the increased safety from fire and other disasters of a home that has been upgraded and remodeled, among other factors.
"Change is inevitable, it's going to happen," said Planning Commissioner Aydan Kutay. "I'm not that concerned about increasing density if it's an opportunity to build a safer home."