Feb 28, 2020 – Zoning Pilot Regulations

Zoning Pilot Concept

The idea is to test concept of “compact” housing units (between 300 and 950 square feet) as a pilot program, which would last for six years and permit qualified pilot participants to use special zoning regulations (drafted below) in lieu of New Haven’s RM- and RS- residential zoning regulations.

Community developers would have to apply to the City to participate in the pilot program and must receive express permission from the community to move ahead with projects that make use of pilot zoning regulations (see requirements for Peer Review below). So, even if a community developer qualifies as a Pilot Participant, their projects (design, business plan, and all) would have to endorsed by would-be neighbors of the project.

We wanted to take a fresh look at using zoning as a tool to enable housing development that was affordable by design (by virtue of enabling development of smaller/less expensive land with smaller/less expensive housing products). Normally, zoning tells developers what they can’t do. Here, we wanted to use zoning to tell developers (like you) what they can do!

OBVIOUSLY, this is far from finished, but it’s a stab at thinking creatively zoning regulations. Pilot parameters, participation eligibility requirements, and pilot administration would need to be worked out by City Government, which are decisions I’m not in a position to influence.

What I have done is come up with simplified zoning regulations that could be used in connection with a pilot program and attempts to respond to community frustrations about limited housing options in New Haven.

PDF Available for Download

Development Type: “Eco Village”

Eco Village Project Regulations

Overview––“Eco Villages Projects” refer to developments containing multiple Eco Units on a single parcel.

Density––2-6 Dwelling Units (DU), each between 300 and 950 square feet in accordance with the definition of an Eco Unit

Parking––1 parking space per DU[1]

Height Limitation––Structure heights may not exceed 35 feet[2]

Distance Between Structures––The distance between structures must be greater than or equal to half the average aggregate structure height of all structures in the project

Occupancy––12 Individual Occupants.[3]

Lot Coverage––Structures may cover no more than 50% of the total lot area.

Setbacks––Buildings shall be set back 10 feet from each lot line OR by an average of 32 feet, provided that no exterior wall shall be closer than 10 feet away from a public sidewalk or 8 feet away from an abutting building.

Uses––Dwelling Units may be used as habitable dwellings and live/work studios. Retail/Commercial Uses are permitted only by Special Permission from the City Plan Commission

[1] Parking Requirement Subject to reduction with qualified use of Bonuses

[2] Max. Height Up to 45 feet with qualified use of Bonuses

[3] Max. Occupancy Up to 16 Individual Occupants with qualified use of Bonuses

Site Plan Review

Projects planned for fewer than 3 DUs or 6 Individual Occupants need not go through Site Plan Review, unless claiming Bonuses.

Projects planned for more than 3 DUs or 6 Individual Occupants must go through Site Plan Review.

All projects claiming Bonuses must go through Site Plan Review.

Peer Review

In order to make use of these Regulations, an applicant must be eligible to participate in this Pilot Program (see “Resident Eligibility Requirements” in Definitions).

Prior to Site Plan Review, an applicant must collect and present to the Deputy Director of Zoning a total of seven Letters of Endorsement from residents/neighbors residing within a .5-mile radius of the parcel. At least one of these letters must come from a resident or property owner living within 100-feet of the project site.

Development Type: “Bungalow Project”

Bungalow Project Regulations

Overview––“Bungalow Projects” refer to developments containing a maximum of two detached Eco Units on a single parcel.

Density––1-2 Dwelling Units (DU), each between 300 and 950 square feet in accordance with the definition of an Eco Unit.

Parking––1 parking space per DU[1]

Height Limitation––Structures may not exceed 25 feet in height.

Distance Between Structures––The distance between structures must be greater than or equal to half the average aggregate structure height of all structures in the projects

Occupancy––4 Individual Occupants[2]

Lot Coverage––Structures may cover no more than 60% of the total lot area

Setbacks––Buildings shall be set back 10 feet from each lot line OR by an average of 28 feet, provided that no exterior wall shall be closer than 10 feet away from a public sidewalk or 8 feet away from an abutting building.

Uses––Dwelling Units may be used as habitable dwellings and live/work studios. Retail/Commercial Uses are permitted only by Special Permission from the City Plan Commission

[1] Parking Subject to reduction with qualified use of Bonuses

[2] Occupancy Up to 6 Individual Occupants with qualified use of Bonuses

Site Plan Review
·       Bungalow Projects DO NOT need to go through the formal Site Plan Review process, unless claiming Bonuses.
 
Peer Review
·       In order to make use of these Regulations, an applicant must be eligible to participate in this Pilot Program (see “Resident Eligibility Requirements” in Definitions).
 
·       Prior to project sign-off, an applicant must collect and present to the Deputy Director of Zoning a total of three letters of endorsement from residents and neighbors living full-time within a tenth of a mile (.1 mile) radius of the project site. At least one of these letters must come from a resident or property owner living in an abutting property.
 
·       Good faith attempts to contact abutting property owners shall constitute a Letter of Endorsement from that property owner

Bonuses

Definitions


Easement Agreement Agreement with the City of New Haven that runs with the land.
[Easement Agreement Draft]

Eco Unit
An Eco Unit is any private dwelling unit between 300 and 950 square feet that includes, at a minimum, one dedicated Efficiency Kitchen, one Full Bathroom for every two occupants, and sleeping quarters. All Eco Units must be constructed pursuant to the requirements set forth in Paragraphs 300 through 311 of Article III of the New Haven Housing Code.

Efficiency Kitchen An efficiency kitchen contains, at a minimum, a sink with a maximum waste line diameter of 1.5 inches, a cooking facility with appliances that neither require electrical service of more than 120 volts nor use natural or propane gas, and food preparation counter and storage cabinets. Kitchen specifications must comply with Paragraph 300(a) of the New Haven Housing Code.

Full Bathroom A Full Bathroom is at least 40sqft and consists of a toilet, shower, and sink with storage.
Full Kitchen A Full Kitchen contains a standard kitchen sink between 23 and 33 inches wide, a five-burner stove and oven range, and at least 360 square inches of aggregate of counter space.

Individual Occupant One human person over the age of 5 years = 1 individual
Persons below the age of 5 years = .5 individual
Domesticated animals weighing more than 20 lbs = .5 individual
Domesticated animals weighing less than 20 lbs = .25 individual

Pilot Eligibility In order to make use of these Regulations, an applicant must be approved to participate in the Pilot Program by the [City Plan Department].
Applications to Participate in the [Title] Pilot Program must include
(1) Name, Phone Number, Email Address
(2) Proof of Residency or a certified Letter of Intent to purchase property in New Haven with the contact information of the seller

Feb 16, 2020–Next Steps?

Important Update: We did not end up submitting a proposal to the Board of Alders in January, thus we will NOT be on the City Plan Commission meeting agenda this coming Wednesday (February 19). 


Synthesized Survey Results: You may recall we circulated a survey back in December regarding New Haven’s interest in seeing alternative housing models re-legalized by the zoning code. The responses were very favorable! Many of you used the write in option to express frustrations and propose creative ideas. We culled the survey results and boiled down the sentiment to discrete, actionable insights. Please see the Survey Takeaways report below in which we synthesize your responses and your recommendations. 


Draft Zoning Text: In response to your comments during Nov’s community meetings and responses to the December survey, we wrote draft zoning regulations for a temporary pilot program that legalizes tiny houses, tiny house villages, ADUs, bungalows, 3-story triplexes (referred to collectively as “Eco Units” and “Eco Villages”). The jist of the regulations is to create loose design guidelines and require some measure of developer/landlord accountability for anyone who wants to build and rent/sell these kinds of housing units. Please see the draft below. You’re welcome to redline or comment on the document and send it back to me at contact@tinylifenhv.com. (Please excuse draft typos). 


Next Steps: We could revise and propose the pilot program draft to the Board of Alders on our own, we could revise the pilot and give it to the Mayor’s team and hope they implement part of it in their overall housing strategy, or we could do nothing. We need you to help us decide our next steps. We don’t want to do anything you’re not comfortable with. If you would, please fill out another survey indicating what you’d like us to do next. Please try to let us know before March 19 (the next BOA CPC agenda deadline)!

2-16 Next Steps Survey

City Plan Commission Submission Deadlines

Nov 20, 2019–Minutes from November Community Meetings

Thanks to everyone who came out our community meetings. If you’d like to read what we learned from these meetings, you can download a log of the conversations below.

DateTimeLocation
Monday November 46:00 pmIves Main Library, 133 Elm
Wednesday November 66:00 pmFussy Coffee, 290 Winchester
Thursday November 76:30 pmCity Hall, City Plan Conference Room
Tuesday November 126:00 pm Wilson Library, Computer Lab
Thursday November 146:00 pm Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand
Monday November 184:30 pmMitchell Library, 37 Harrison
Tuesday November 195:00 pmFlorence Virtue, 37 Orchard Pl
Tuesday November 195:30 pm Varick Church, 242 Dixwell Ave