OPC continues to weigh revamping residential lot regulations across districts

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by Greg Markley
Political Writer

After tweaking a May proposal affecting residential lots in three zoning districts, the Opelika Planning Commission continued to discuss the matter last Tuesday and are likely to have  it on their agenda again in July.

Eventually, an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that changes the R-1A, R-2, and R-3 categories may be sent to the City Council.

In 2007, the OPC recommended and the City Council approved a Residential Transition District, R-1A (30,000 square feet) to bridge the gulf in lot size between R-1 (43,560 sq. ft.) and R-2 (15,000 sq. ft.).

At the May 28th meeting, planning director Jerry Kelley and his team suggested having an R-2A (10,000 square feet) zoning district to provide a transition from the R-3 (7,500 sq. ft.) to R-2 (15,000 sq. ft.) standard.

“New residential single family subdivisions will come to pass as we move out of this housing recession,” Kelley said. “Staff desires your assessment to create a district that will guide residential development in a different direction than the zoning of land and building of subdivisions that occurred in R-3 during the ‘boom’ years from 2002-2007.”

Kelley added that 10,000 sq. ft. is reasonable for a single-family lot and that the gap from 15,000 sq. ft. for R-2 and 43,560 sq. ft. for R-1 was “excessive.” In 2007 the zoning district of R-1A at 30,000 sq. ft. made an alternative between them.

Yet, “With the recession and housing slump (2008-2012), no new subdivisions have been submitted for consideration since a rezoning petition from R-1 to R-1A never materialized.”

The ideas that the OPC are planning to suggest to the Council include for R-1A, reducing minimum lot width from 100 feet to 90 feet and requiring side setbacks to be 20, not 15, feet.

In  R-2, dwelling units per acre would be reduced from 4 to 2.5 while the size yard setback feet requirement might be upped from 12 to 15.

Finally, in R-3, minimum lot size would go from 7,500 to 10,000 sq. ft., with a reduction in dwelling units per acre (4 down to 3.5), minimum lot width increased from 60 to 70 feet, and front yard setback advanced from 25 to 30 feet.

The next regular meeting of the Opelika Planning Commission is set for Tuesday, July 23, at 3 p.m. The work session is Tuesday, July 10, 2013, also at 3 p.m.

Both meetings are held at the Public Works Facility, 700 Fox Trail in Opelika.

Both meetings are also completely open to the public.

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