More Fun With Zoning

In a fine example of the problem with our current zoning standards, commenter Graeme has posted this notice of a possible demolition of a historic structure for a parking lot, as well as this long IHP report. The zoning standards sadly encourage this.

Fortunately, there looks to be a compromise solution to reconfigure a current parking lot, which could provide more spaces than the lot currently provides. The oblique aerial photograph on page 31 of the staff report shows that there is quite a large parking lot already at the facility, so this may be possible. However, that compromise solution will not always work for every problem such as this. Zoning will continue to encourage sprawl-styled development and discourage human-scaled urban development until the laws are changed. Of course, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Comments 10

  • One option that I’m not sure if ANYBODY has looked at is to ask for a variance to reduce the number of parking spaces needed for this particular zoning. Parking requirements is the biggest fault that zoning has.

  • I was kind of wondering about the variance issue myself. Good point.

  • I thought making Irvington a historic district was specifically supposed to prevent this kind of thing. The IHPC has zoning jurisdiction and could grant a variance for the lack of parking.

    The zoning code does a decent job of distinguishing between urban and suburban areas, except on the issue of parking. A simple reduction in the ridiculous parking requirements of the Commercial Zoning Ordinance would make a huge difference. As it is, almost any new commercial establishment in the old city limits has to get a variance.

  • The constant application for parking variances has to be an annoying bit of bureaucracy for developers.

  • OK, I just read the IHPC report, and I really must be missing something. Why do they have to go through all of these plans for where to put an additional parking lot, rather than just having the IHPC grant a variance for the existing insufficient parking? If the only problem is that the current parking does not meet the zoning requirements, why is that not the easiest solution?

  • I wish I could answer that David.

  • I can answer that (kind of). The reason that the property owner gave at the hearing was that they needed more parking spaces to make the historic building economically viable. The owner originally filed a site plan (in 2001) that allowed more parking spaces but he did not finish the parking lot job completely (for unknown reasons). This happily avoided demolition of the building.

    Now they are needing more parking spots, especially if they want to lease out the historic building. The IHPC was happy to offer any number of variances to make this problem go away, but the owner decided to take advantage of the situation and force a new deal that would increase his parking (and encroach on surrounding residential property). The hearing involved compromises on all sides, and the historic building should have a brighter future but only time will tell if the property owner is interested in actually leasing the historic building or continuing to let it fall apart.

    The impression I got at the hearing was the building would now come under IHPC jurisdiction in return for additional parking.

  • Interesting stuff Graeme, thanks.

  • What about getting rid of the Plasma center and using that area for parking?

  • I pass that corner several times a week and keep trying to imagine what wonderful thing could go in that building. I’m also amused by the “2nd Floor Drive-Thru” part of the sign. 🙂

    I think it would be neat to buy it, live in the upstairs, and have the downstairs be a shop or something. But I am not made of money. I do like that building a lot, though.

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